EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Prior to the 2010 season, Austin had professional scouts and talent evaluators comparing him favorably to NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Ndamukong Suh, feeling that the Tar Heel would establish himself as the dominant force on the defensive front wall during his senior campaign. Both possess excellent hand placement skills and natural raw strength to easily handle double-team coverage.
But the 2010 season was filled with controversy for the defensive tackle, who was the main character under investigation by the NCAA for improper contact between agents and Austin and wide receiver Greg Little. "NCAA representatives are on campus this week as we work with them on the review," UNC athletic director Dick Baddour said in a statement during the summer. The University of North Carolina continues to fully cooperate with the NCAA and we are working hard to resolve this issue as quickly as possible."
The investigation dragged on throughout August camp. Prior to the season opener, head coach Butch Davis announced that Austin and several other Tar Heels were suspended from the team while UNC awaited the NCAA's review.
"It is kind of a distraction," North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates said during fall drills. "We kind of look at it as we've already taken our adversity for the season, so once we get over this little speed bump, we'll be able to put it behind us and go forward through the season."
Prior to the 2010 season opener, Butch Davis announced that while Austin's suspension was characterized as "indefinite," to this point UNC has only publicly committed to keeping him out against this weekend's opener at Louisiana State. "This decision is not a result of the ongoing NCAA review," said Davis. "Marvin has violated team rules and has neglected his responsibilities to the team."
During his radio show, Davis didn't specifically address the Austin suspension, but said: "Long after I'm the football coach here and long after any of the players that are playing here (are gone), there is going to be a University of North Carolina and there is going to be a football program. And whatever we have to do to restore the character and integrity, that's our challenge."
A team spokesman would not say what team rules Austin broke. A criminal background check on the player showed no felonies. At the time of the investigation, he was scheduled to be in Orange County District Court on September 15th for the following charges: a February 10th citation for a misdemeanor noise ordinance violation; a May 7th driving without registration citation; and a May 7th citation for improper window tinting.
In early September, a person familiar with the situation said investigators from the North Carolina Secretary of State's office had subpoenaed Austin. The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall was reviewing whether sports agent laws have been broken.
Christopher Lyons, Austin's attorney, confirmed that Austin met with investigators for several hours. Lyons said Austin was "fully cooperating," but he would not comment on specifics of the meeting. A spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's office declined to comment on the meeting.
On October 11, Davis announced that Austin had been dismissed from the football program. The school also said that the NCAA declared receiver Greg Little and defensive end Robert Quinn permanently ineligible. "It's a sad day when three young men are no longer able to represent their school based on actions they have taken and decisions they have made contrary to NCAA rules," athletic director Dick Baddour said in a statement issued by the school.
"Unfortunately, they made serious mistakes in judgment in accepting extra benefits and then not being truthful with our staff and NCAA representatives. Now they must forfeit the privilege of playing again for the Tar Heels." The next time Austin would return to the football field was in January, 2011, as he participated in practices leading up to the East-West Shrine game.
During his prep days, Austin transferred to Ballou High School from Coolidge High prior to his senior season. He received a five-star prospect rating from both Rivals.com and Scout.com. He added All-American honors from Super Prep and Parade and was selected National Defensive Player of the Year according to recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.
Both Scout.com Rivals.com regarded Austin as the nation's best defensive tackle, as Rivals also called him the seventh-best overall prospect in the country. Prep Star rated him the best defensive tackle in the country and Super Prep placed him second at his position, along with being the best player in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Austin earned All-Metro honors from the Washington Post and was chosen to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. During his senior season at Ballou, he recorded 85 tackles with 17 sacks and 14 other stops behind the line of scrimmage. As a junior at Coolidge High, he posted 12 sacks with a combined 24 stops for loss.
On February 7th, 2007, Austin signed his national letter-of-intent to attend the University of North Carolina. He was recruited by recently ousted assistant coach John Blake, who was also involved in the NCAA investigation that led to Austin's dismissal. As a true freshman, he played in twelve games, starting three contests at right defensive tackle. He produced 26 tackles (16 solos) with six stops for loss, finishing third on the team with four sacks.
As a sophomore, Austin started eleven games at right tackle, but was benched for two games late in the schedule by the coaching staff. He ranked ninth on the team with 38 tackles (21 solos), coming up with just one sack, as he also blocked and extra point attempt vs. McNeese State and returned an interception 23 yards for a touchdown in the Connecticut contest.
Austin earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors while starting eleven games in 2009. He was again benched for two games due to inconsistent play, as he totaled 42 tackles (22 solos), tenth-best on the team. He did match his career-highs with four sacks and six stops behind the line of scrimmage, adding six QB pressures with three pass break-ups.
After sitting out the entire 2010 season, a contrite Austin appeared on the practice field in January, 2011, preparing to play in the East-West Shrine Game. He told the Associated Press that there was no one to blame but himself, that he regrets his mistakes and is focused on "showing everybody who I really am."
He expressed remorse following his final walkthrough before the first major college football all-star game of the 2010 postseason. "It wasn't so much that the spotlight was on me (this week), it was just getting out here and playing, showing that I was training and was working while I was out," Austin said.
"And just to get out here and show that I still got it. "I've been working. I've been working the whole time (since his dismissal). I wouldn't have been able to get through these practices if I wasn't working." Austin said that he hasn't shied away from talking about the agent scandal with NFL scouts during informal interviews with several teams this week.
"I've done a lot of interviews and met with a lot of NFL teams," he said. "I've been completely honest and told them I'm ready to play. They're going to form their opinion about Marvin Austin based on what we talked about and hopefully it's all good."
Austin started 25-of-38 games at North Carolina, recording 106 tackles (59 solos) with nine sacks for minus 76 yards, 13.5 stops for losses totaling 91 yards and fourteen quarterback pressures…Caused a fumble and recovered another that he advanced three yards…Broke up three pass attempts and intercepted another for a 23-yard touchdown return.
The preseason All-American candidate was also a member of the Lombardi Award, Outland Trophy and Nagurski Award watch lists, but was suspended from the team in early September and later dismissed from the UNC football program in October.
Austin earned second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors…Started the first eleven games at right defensive tackle before being benched for the team's final two contests, but lined up at left tackle vs. Pittsburgh in the Meineke Car Care Bowl…Ranked tenth on the team with 42 tackles (22 solos) that included matching his career-high (from 2007) with four sacks for minus 40 yards and six stops for losses of 48 yards…Credited with six QB pressures…Caused a fumble and recovered another that he advanced three yards…Batted down three passes and recorded a safety vs. Connecticut…Made 37 plays vs. the run, holding those ball carriers to only 38 yards (1.02 ypc), five first downs and one touchdown, as he made three third-down stops, took down ball carriers at the line of scrimmage for no gain on seven attempts and registered five of his tackles inside the red zone, including four on goal-line plays.
2009 GAME ANALYSIS
Connecticut…Austin posted a career-high eight tackles (3 solos) that included a 6-yard sack and 1.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage in a 12-10 decision…The Huskies were forced to punt in the second quarter after the junior sacked QB Zach Frazer for minus 6 yards on a third-&-9 snap…Also knocked the ball away from center Moe Petrus, resulting in a 12-yard loss before the ball rolled out of bounds in the end zone for a safety with 1:32 left in the game, as that play gave UNC its game-winning score…Head to Head Competition-OG#66-Mathieu Olivier (6:06-286).
East Carolina…Austin collected five tackles, including one for a loss in a 31-17 win…He also batted down a third-&-8 pass attempt by Pat Pinkney, leading to an ECU punt at the start of the second quarter…In the final stanza, he helped tackle Giavani Ruffin for a 2-yard loss on a carry up the middle of the line…Head to Head Competition-OG#74-Terence Campbell (6:05-318).
Boston College…The defensive tackle was in on only three tackles, but he recorded a sack and deflected a pass in a 31-13 triumph…He knocked down a third-&-2 pass attempt by QB Dave Shinskie early in the fourth quarter, forcing BC to punt the ball away…With 5:40 left on the game clock, he sacked Shinskie for a 10-yard loss at the Eagles' 10-yard line…Head to Head Competition-OG#75-Nathan Richman (6:06-292).
North Carolina State…Inconsistent performances in recent games led to the coaches benching Austin in favor of Cam Thomas, but the junior responded to his demotion with seven tackles (3 solos) and the first multiple sack performance for his career, as he finished with 2.5 stops for losses of 25 yards…He first sacked Russell Wilson for minus 16 yards midway through the second quarter and dropped the QB again for an 8-yard loss on the final play of the first half…Head to Head Competition-OG#73-Julian Williams (6:05-309).
Other Notable Performances…Did not record any statistics in the season opener vs. The Citadel…Made five stops vs. the running game, including one on a goal-line play vs. Georgia Tech…Added a pair of stops, as he also caused a fumble when he knocked the ball out of the hands of QB Jameel Sewell on a third-&-20 bootleg at the UNC 23 late in the second quarter vs. Virginia…Posted three solo tackles, but was penalized for jumping offside in the first quarter and again for a personal foul in the third frame of the Georgia Southern clash…Limited to two tackles, but recovered a fumble by QB Christian Ponder, advancing the ball three yards to the FSU 12 vs. Florida State…Called for jumping offside in the second quarter vs. the Seminoles…Delivered three hits vs. Virginia Tech, taking down tailback Ryan Williams for no gain on a second-&-goal carry at the UNC 1-yard line in the third quarter…Did not record any tackles, but was credited with three pressures vs. Duke, including one that resulted in a Thad Lewis third-&-6 incomplete pass, resulting in a Blue Devils punt in the first frame…Assisted on two tackles, taking down tailback Graig Cooper at the line of scrimmage for no gain on a first quarter carry and stopped Cooper for no gain on a second quarter screen pass vs. Miami…In what would be his final game as a Tar Heel, Austin was held to two solo tackles while shifting to left defensive tackle in a 19-17 loss to Pittsburgh in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
Austin started 11-of-13 games for the Tar Heels at right defensive tackle, tying for the team-lead among the UNC down linemen with 38 tackles (21 solos), as he posted a 3-yard sack, 1.5 stops for minus 4 yards and five pressures…Blocked an extra point attempt vs. McNeese State, deflected one pass and intercepted another, returning the ball 23 yards for a touchdown in the Connecticut clash…Was benched for the team's final two games vs. Georgia Tech and Duke before reclaiming his starting job vs. West Virginia in the Meineke Car Care Bowl…Made 34 plays vs. the rushing attack, holding those runners to 86 yards (2.53 ypc), as he delivered four third-down hits, took three runners down at the line of scrimmage for no gain and had five tackles inside the red zone.
2008 GAME ANALYSIS
McNeese State…Austin opened the season by blocking a kick to go with three tackles and a pressure in a 35-27 victory…He was called for jumping offside, setting up a 2-yard scoring run by QB Derrick Fourroux, but the defensive tackle would block the ensuing extra point attempt as time expired in the first half…Was called for another offside penalty early in the third quarter that set up another McNeese scoring drive…Head to Head Competition-OG#69-Eman Naghavi (6:02-300).
Connecticut…Austin experienced every defensive lineman's dream when he returned an interception for a touchdown, as he also posted a solo tackle and a pressure in a 38-12 win…He chased QB Zach Frazer out of the pocket on a first-&-goal snap, resulting in an interception by UNC safety Tremane Goddard to kill a 7-play, 52-yard series with 0:10 left in the first half…Austin later picked off a Frazer pass and raced 23 yards for a touchdown with 4:09 remaining in the contest…Head to Head Competition-OG#57-Moe Petrus (6:02-276).
Notre Dame…Austin earned Player of the Game honors from the coaching staff after he registered three tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage and a pressure in another nail-biting 29-24 triumph…He was penalized for jumping offside on the Irish's first series, which was followed by a Jimmy Clausen-to-Golden Tate 19-yard touchdown toss, but he pressured Clausen on a third-&-17 pass that netted just 9 yards on their next series, bringing out the Notre Dame punt team…Fullback Robert Hughes was stuffed behind the line of scrimmage on a third quarter carry at the ND 39…Head to Head Competition-OG#55-Eric Olsen (6:04-303).
North Carolina State…In his last start before being benched, Austin made just two solo tackles, but one was a 3-yard sack of QB Russell Wilson with 2:12 left in the first half…
Earlier in the first quarter, State had to punt after Austin pressured Wilson on a third-&-12 pass that netted 8 yards…Head to Head Competition-OG#75-John Bedics (6:04-295).
Other Notable Performances…Had two tackles in the win at Rutgers, adding six tackles and a pass break-up while playing a key role in limiting the running success of Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor…Made three solo stops vs. Miami and posted three hits in the Maryland clash…Came up with three tackles vs. Georgia Tech, followed by four hits and a pressure in a 45-24 defeat of Boston College…Made a pair of tackles vs. Duke and had two more stops in the Meineke Car Care Bowl vs. West Virginia.
Austin played in all twelve games, backing up Kentwan Balmer at right defensive tackle before earning three starting assignments vs. East Carolina on the right side and vs. Virginia Tech and Miami on the left side…Finished with 26 tackles (16 solos), including four sacks for minus 33 yards, six stops for losses of 39 yards and three pressures.
2007 GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Posted four tackles and assisted on a 3-yard sack in the win over Duke…Had one tackle at Georgia Tech and played well in the win over Maryland, coming up with four tackles and two quarterback hurries…Added one tackle at Wake Forest and made a 14-yard sack on South Carolina QB Chris Smelley… Made his first career start in the loss at East Carolina and had a 2-yard stop for loss…Totaled three tackles and a sack vs. Miami and in his second career start, Austin was credited with an 8-yard sack and four hits vs. Virginia Tech…Had a productive game at South Florida, delivering five solo tackles and a 4-yard stop for loss.
No major injuries reported.
Attended Coolidge (Washington, D.C.) High School, where he played football for head coach Jason Lane before transferring to Ballou (Washington, D.C.) High to play for head coach Moses Ware during his senior year…Coolidge High presently boasts a female head coach, Natalie Randolph, at the helm…Received a five-star prospect rating from both Rivals.com and Scout.com…Added All-American honors from Super Prep and Parade and was selected National Defensive Player of the Year according to recruiting analyst Tom Lemming…Both Scout.com Rivals.com regarded Austin as the nation's best defensive tackle, as Rivals also called him the seventh-best overall prospect in the country…Prep Star rated him the best defensive tackle in the country and Super Prep placed him second at his position, along with being the best player in the Mid-Atlantic region…Earned All-Metro honors from the Washington Post and was chosen to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl…During his senior season at Ballou High, he recorded 85 tackles with 17 sacks and 14 other stops behind the line of scrimmage…As a junior at Coolidge High, he posted 12 sacks with a combined 24 stops for loss.
Communications major…Son of Donna Johnson…Born 1/01/89…Resides in Washington, D.C.