Pushing the Limits: Owens aims to play receiver like a linebacker

Published 9:03 pm Thursday, July 19, 2018

Austin football player Gavin Owens may play wide receiver, but don’t make the mistake of calling him soft.

Owens is not your typical receiver who likes to run past defenders, but shies away from blocks or contact. Instead, he relishes the chance to get physical in the secondary and use his size to his advantage.

“One of the best parts about football is you’re just able to hit someone,” Owens said. “You can be physical and hit someone and you won’t be called for a penally like in other sports. You can just go out and play hard and that’s nice.”

Austin football player Gavin Owens goes through a training session in the AHS weight room Thursday morning. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

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During the summer strength and conditioning program, Austin football players often find themselves competing against each other in weight lifts, speed drills and strength drills. Although he plays wide receiver, Owens has found himself in competitions against the Austin linemen this summer — and he has held his own.

Owens has benched up to 230 pounds and he is squatting around 315 pounds after a summer full of workouts.

“It really helps to push you when you’re going against teammates [in the weight room],” Owens said. “If you were doing it by yourself, you might give up or drop early. But if you’re going up against someone, it’ll push you to do the best you can do. That really helps.”

Owens, who will be a senior this fall, established himself as a big play receiver for the Packers last season as he hauled in 35 passes for 548 yards and 10 TDs. He averaged 25.4 yards on kick returns with one touchdown.

This season, expect more of the same from Owens and his teammates as Austin has a big group of wide receivers who will be able to go up and get the ball.

We’ll be able to throw the ball up a lot more to our receivers and let the receivers make plays. Our receivers will be a lot bigger than the corners. We’ll be able to out-jump them and be a lot more physical,” Owens said. “Last year helped a lot and this year should be really good. Hopefully we’re going to play in state. That’s the plan.”

Austin’s Gavin Owens hauls in a late touchdown over Owatonna’s Alex Raichle in a Section 1AAAAA semifinal game last season. Herald File Photo

The Packers made some big strides on the gridiron last season as they finished 5-5 overall. All of their losses came against state-ranked teams and Austin gave eventual Minnesota Class AAAAA state champ Owatonna one of its better battles of the postseason in a 62-41 loss in the Section 1AAAAA semifinals.

Owens, who is looking to play college football at the Division II or Division III level in college, is hoping the Packers are ready for a big season when they open things up at Rochester Mayo at Aug. 31.

“Our team’s really excited,” Owens said. “I’ve loved football since I was really young and it’s grown on me. You have to be pretty competitive for it and that’s a good thing because our whole team is really competitive.”