Foothill’s Austin Overn had a need for speed and proved it

Austin Overn is shown in a baseball uniform, on the track and signing his letter of intent with USC.
Austin Overn, a three-sport standout at Foothill High, has been dominating in baseball, football, and track and field.
(Michael Owen Baker / Los Angeles Times; Courtesy of Austin Overn)

When Austin Overn is hitting home runs in the major leagues, catching passes in the NFL or dunking during a celebrity basketball game, someone will inevitably ask him how he did during his senior year at Santa Ana Foothill High.

The answer will result in this stunning response, “Really?”

Not since the days when Giancarlo Stanton was known as Mike Stanton and earning All-CIF honors at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame in football, basketball and baseball has there been an athlete quite like Overn, who is 6 feet, 170 pounds and headed to USC.

In football, he was a star receiver, catching 68 passes for 1,407 yards and 20 touchdowns. In baseball, he’s a star center fielder, hitting .344 with 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts — “I was safe,” he said of his only failed attempt. He played basketball until this season and is happy to dunk for his friends in the gym.

Foothill wide receiver Austin Overn, shown here catching a pass during a game, had a stellar senior season.
(Courtesy of Yannick Peterhans)

His most audacious example of athleticism came last month in his track debut. He ran 10.73 seconds in the 100 meters with just a week of training how to get out of the starting block. Since then, he lowered his best time to 10.49 seconds, went 23-1 in his first attempt at long jump and qualified to compete in last weekend’s prestigious Arcadia Invitational.

“He’s a freaking great athlete,” said his future USC classmate, sprinter Max Thomas of Anaheim Servite.

USC football coach Lincoln Riley has agreed to let him join the football team in June as a walk-on. After that, his focus will be baseball, for which he’ll be on scholarship. Who knows if he’ll have time to run 100 meters for the Trojans’ track team but don’t ever doubt what he’s capable of doing.

This spring, his priority remains baseball, and if there’s a conflict between the baseball playoffs and competing in the Southern Section track and field prelims and finals, he said, “If it overlaps with track, I’m going to go to baseball for sure.”

This has been a spring like no other for Overn.

“I wanted to come out here and prove a point that I am fast,” he said, “Now it’s gotten to the point I’m actually enjoying it and getting myself in position where I could win CIF or state.”

He showed up at Arcadia High last Saturday wearing the coolest sunglasses as if he wereready to go catch fly balls in the sun. He was going against the best athletes in the state and picked up good preparation for the future. He finished ninth in the 100 and 15th in the long jump in a setting that featured more than 7,000 spectators.


What he’s been able to accomplish in such a short period of time is simply amazing considering he’s going against seasoned track athletes.

Asked which sport is the most challenging, Overn didn’t hesitate.

“Baseball for sure,” he said. “You can’t really rely on athleticism, which I feel is my strong point. Sometimes you go 0 for 4 at the plate and can’t show your speed. In the outfield, sometimes you don’t even get a ball. With football, every other play you can show it.”

Overn came out to run the 100 just when Servite’s Thomas started to dominate, and Overn’s presence helped accelerate Thomas’ progress to the point he won the 100 and 200 at the Arcadia Invitational.

“At some of those meets, there’s really no one there to push me,” Thomas said. “He’s been there to push me.”

And Thomas has been motivating Overn.

“He’s a cool guy,” Overn said. “We’re friends. He’s one of the reasons I’ve been training a lot more because I’ve never been beaten in a race before and this kid has beaten me three times. Hopefully I can get him back.”

Foothill track coach EJ Phifer said he had heard of Overn, “but until he shows up he’s just another fast kid on campus.”

Now he knows he’s got another Bo Jackson. Well, maybe not.

“I’m coaching Mo Jackson,” he said. “Bo Jackson did two sports. This kid did four.”

Overn said he has always known he was fast but wanted to prove it to others.

“I just figured out how I’m capable of doing what anyone else can,” he said. “I feel when I committed for football, a bunch of people have been doubting me since. I feel coming out here and showing that I’m one of the fastest kids in the state proves a solid point it can correlate to the football field as well.”


So everyone enjoy this extraordinary example of teenage athleticism on display in baseball and track this spring, or wait for football in the fall. Just know that Overn is going places and no one will ever again doubt his speed.