North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin was dismissed from the team last year and didn't play a snap because he was a central figure in the NCAA's investigation into improper contact between athletes and agents, but he's expected to wear No. 99 -- and a North Carolina helmet -- in the East-West Shrine game this weekend.
Austin told the Raleigh News & Observer that he's "not ready to talk about the past" yet, but he's happy to be on the field hitting again. He can take a shot under his facemask, but apparently can't handle a question about why he missed an entire season.
No, I don't think Austin should be rewarded with a spot in this game when there are other deserving players out there who followed the rules. (Watch the video). Yes, he paid his dues by sitting out a season, and he deserves his shot at the NFL and will get it, but these games are supposed to also be a reward for the players who just went through the grind of an entire season and have earned their spot in a showcase game.
A player like Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
Taylor is working out with the quarterbacks and you can catch up on what he did in Todd McShay's blog. Todd McShay, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl of Scouts Inc. are tracking all of the action leading up to the Shrine Game and Insiders can follow it here.
There are several ACC players to follow, but Austin will be one of the most-watched players at these practices and with good reason. Despite his past transgressions, it's impossible not to follow along to see how he fares after sitting out the year. To get into these practices and win one-on-one battles against guys who have been training with their teammates all season is impressive. He's a bit rusty, but there's no question he's a phenomenal player.
Some might even call him an all-star.