Marvin Austin kept mostly a low profile in the practice sessions leading up to the East-West Shrine Game.
After sitting out this past season following his involvement in the agent scandal that rocked North Carolina's football program, he had a lot to prove Saturday in the annual showcase for college seniors.
So grabbing a late-game fumble recovery for a touchdown to punctuate a 25-8 victory for the East over the West more than made his week in Orlando worthwhile.
"I sat the whole season out. Everybody knows it," Austin said. "People thought I was going to feel sorry for myself. ... A lot of people talk about my talent. They don't see the work I put in to try to be the best. They (the NFL) say they just want me to be confident and keep playing hard."
That workhorse spirit was exhibited throughout an East team that dominated first major all-star game of the draft season.
Syracuse running back Delone Carter ran for a touchdown and was selected the offensive MVP and Richmond tackle Martin Parker had a pair of sacks and forced a fumble to take defensive MVP honors.
The East scored 19 points in the first half and recovered three fumbles. It also had a team safety.
Carter finished with 54 yards on 11 carries, while Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor had the best passing day for the East, going 4 of 5 for 59 yards.
Austin's highlight came with 3:41 left in the fourth quarter when West quarterback Jerrod Johnson of Texas A&M was sacked by Tennessee's Chris Walker inside the 2. The ball trickled into the end zone and was recovered by Austin.
Parker had 96 tackles this past season and 5½ sacks. He was projected to be a late-round pick, but said he ignored all of that this week.
"My goal coming down here was just to play a solid game and just show the scouts, (and) show the people what I could do," Parker said. "It never crossed my mind that I would go out there and be defensive player of the game. I'm really thankful and grateful for it."
The West managed just 14 yards rushing yards and had just eight first downs. Its lone score came on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Idaho's Nathan Enderle to Portland State tight end Julius Thomas with 2:44 left in the second quarter. The pair also hooked up for a 2-point conversion pass. Enderle was 6 of 12 for 45 yards.
The West's best effort on defense came from Oklahoma State linebacker Orie Lemon, who finished with eight tackles. He said he will let his play speak for itself regarding the future.
"I put it all in God's hands and I'll let him do his will," Lemon said. "Wherever he takes me, that's where I'm going."
The East led 19-8 at halftime, dominating the time of possession in the opening 30 minutes and riding the play of a stingy defense that had a pair of fumble recoveries.
West running back and Hawaii product Alex Green fumbled on the opening play of the game to set up a 16-yard touchdown run by Carter.
The lead grew to 9-0 with 8:59 left in the first quarter when Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien was sacked at his own 5 by Oregon defensive end Kenny Rowe. The ball rolled into the end zone and was recovered by Illinois' Randall Hunt for a safety.
Following the free kick, the East capped the first extended drive of the day with a 4-yard touchdown run by Penn State's Evan Royster.
Auburn kicker Wes Byrum, who had the winning kick in the Tigers' national championship game win over Oregon, connected on one of three field goal attempts in the first half. He hit from 25 yards and had misses from 27 and 44 yards.
The East held the ball for 18:32 in the first half, compared to just 11:28 for the West. The East also had 11 first downs, to just four for the West.