Last week we covered Robert Quinn's story, and today, we'll talk Marvin Austin. Austin's unfiltered tweeting was what kicked off the whole UNC scandal for receiving gifts from agents, and his "twi-immaturity" (see what I did there?) was collectively chronicled by NC State fans. In that link are twitpics showing off his love for guns, lavish trips, porn, and girls. It's easy for cubicle monkeys like myself to anoint Marvin a "thug" for such behavior, but when I hear first-hand stories from his coaching staff that that two years ago he was in tears over not wanting to let his special needs siblings down again, that certainly shows maturity and a step in the right direction.
Marvin Austin played High School ball in DC having transferred from Coolidge (in Northwest DC) to Ballou (in Southeast). If Detroit's 8-mile were to start a High School football team, the equipment wouldn't be much farther off from what Austin had to work with at Ballou:
"All the [football quipment] we've either made or it's been handed down for 20 years," says Ware, who played at Ballou two decades ago and is in his first season as coach of the Knights after serving as an assistant at Coolidge for three years. "It's been there since before I was a player."
Austin: "The weights I work with might not look pretty, but they're still the same weight. There's no room for excuses. I see my mom going to work every day and putting a roof over our heads and she never complains. If she can do that, I can go out there and work like she does."
Austin's combine media presser pretty much was entirely focused on his off-field issues:
This is a privilege. To be here is a privilege. A lot of guys would kill to be in the shoes of all of the 300 guys here and so you have to take advantage of it and never abuse the privilege. I went from being one of the top players and prospects in the nation to being a guy that is not even talked about. And it was a tough situation having to sit back and watch all the other defensive linemen go out and play and perform and not be able to do anything. It made you put things in perspective a lot more.
Do you regret what happened?
I don't regret anything. Everything was a learning experience and I wanted to come back and possibly win a national championship at North Carolina...I thought we had a chance to build a great team, and we had one of the top teams and defenses in the country.
Explain what happened that led to the suspension?
Pretty much I went on two trips to California and two trips to Miami.
How did the team react to you after that?
My teammates were there for me the whole time. I was afraid that they might ignore me and shy away from me but they were there the whole time. They were picking me up. It was a tough time for me but just seeing my teammates go through that with me. I just tried to encourage them as much as I could.
What did you do in your time off?
I went home and was around my family, the people who know me because I know a lot of stuff, a lot of press was given about the benefits. There were so many rumors about I did this and was getting cars and a lot of things that weren't true - things about me as a person and it was extremely hard. It's still hard to watch some of the stuff that's said about my character. I've never taken a drink in my life, I've never smoked in my life. I've done everything to get to this point, but one mistake, taking a couple of trips, and one of them was taken to help me get better as an athlete, has cost me may whole senior season and my image.
I had to sit and listen to my little sister ask me, ‘Marvin, I heard you were drinking and all of this,' when I'm trying to tell her that you don't have to do all that, you don't have to go with that crowd. So it was an extremely tough situation, but I got through it and I'm a lot stronger for it and I thin it's going to make me a whole lot better professional.
How much do you think you lost in draft stock because of the scandal?
I don't really know. I can't really answer that, because I don't know where the teams had me rated before the season and I don't know now. All I can do is go and work hard and perform and show them what I can do as a player and who I am as a person. I don't' really know. I try to stay away from all the blogs and stuff like that, because the draft is not an exact science. All you have to do is be impressive to one team.
Should the NCAA change it's rules and give players a monthly stipend?
That's an extremely hard question to answer, because you do get a scholarship, you do get certain privileges that some other non athletes get, but at the same time its' extremely hard, for me, being a 300-pound guy, to eat lunch and it's only $10. That doesn't go very far with inflation and it's still the same since like 1997. So I think there's ways it can be improved and I think that some of the things that the NCAA is doing is good. Just like I said, going through the situation and seeing how some of these situations happened, the NCAA they have a decent handle on it but there can be room for reform.
What's the best part of your game?
My passion and my effort, I go sideline to sideline and I try to go as hard as I can every play.
And it all started from a tweet?
That's the rumor, that's what's been said, that it started from a tweet, but I don't believe that. The NCAA came and they had like 15 guys in the room and so you know it didn't just all come from a tweet.
It's tough for us to judge without personal interviews, but I certainly wouldn't dismiss Austin based on his past mistakes. After all, these kids and are still learning maturity. All I know is if I was a head football coach, whether it be Pee-Wee, NCAA, or NFL, banning Twitter for my entire team would be my first order of business.