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Q&A with Austin Herink, Austria's new football star

By Joe Avento • May 1, 2019 at 2:40 AM

Austin Herink really didn’t expect to still be playing football, but the former East Tennessee State quarterback is making the most of an opportunity that presented itself just as he prepared to enter the coaching job market after graduating college.

Herink is playing for the Dacia Vienna Vikings in Austria and his rookie year has been spectacular. Six games into the season, the smooth left-hander has thrown for 1,540 yards and 17 touchdowns. He leads the Austrian League in touchdown passes and is third in yardage.

Herink’s team is playing in two separate competitions. In the Austrian League, the Vikings are 2-2. In the European Championships, a competition that runs concurrent with the regular season, the team is 2-0. Herink was 11-of-12 passing for 201 yards and three touchdowns while playing just a half in one European game.

Along the way he has played against such teams as the Danube Dragons, Wienerwald Amstetten Thunder and Prague Black Panthers.

Herink took a break from his busy schedule to answer some questions this week.

Have you kept in touch with ETSU teammates? If so, which ones?

I still keep in touch with most of them. I talk to Austin Gatewood, Alonzo Francois, Trey Quillin and Joe Defatta almost daily.

How has the overall experience been so far?

The overall experience has been very eye-opening to see the differences between our cultures. I have really enjoyed conversations with my teammates and coach over here as well as traveling and trying to see and experience as much as I can in Europe.

What have you enjoyed the most?

Along with travel and seeing some of the places I read about in history books, football is still enjoyable. To be able to break down opponents and game-plan and then go out and try to execute that plan is still very exciting.

Are there any specific instances where being an outsider has caused some challenges?

The grocery store has been a huge challenge because they try and rush you through so you really have to be ready to go when you are going to grab some food. It’s also weird being in a room where no one else is talking English and you just kind of have to sit there and guess what they are saying. That can be kind of fun. Also ordering food is an adventure because sometimes you really don’t know what you are getting so you just get surprised when you get your food. Sometimes good, sometimes bad.

How is the level of football?

The level of football I would say is D2/D3. It’s actually much better than I thought. There are certainly some guys who could play FCS ball out here. I believe Europe has some untapped potential in terms of recruiting grounds for football.

Any surprises along the way?

Surprises are how nice and helpful the people are. They’ve been great and also willing to talk about history and differences in our cultures.

Do you get coached in German?

I get coached in English, but most of my teammates talk German and English so communicating isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. It definitely makes me feel dumb that I don’t know more than one language.

How have the teammates taken to you?

My teammates are awesome. I think we have a pretty similar sense of humor, so that has been fun. It’s been fun to travel with them and have them explain things to me.

What do you miss most being away from home?

I miss my family and friends the most. It’s very difficult being away from them. I also miss simple things like driving my car around or just getting a burrito at Barberitos.

Has the experience made you grow as a person?

I really don’t know if I have a complete answer for that. This experience has taken me so far out of my comfort zone that it has forced me to grow. I’ve had to become a lot more independent. But I think the coolest part has been the widening of my perspective in terms of how I see the world.

The team looks good. What are the goals?

Our goals are to win the European and Austrian championships. Both are still very obtainable, so we are working to make sure we reach them.