Though he didn't star on the field, it was a victory in itself for USC's Stafon Johnson to play for the South in Saturday's 31-13 loss to the North in the Senior Bowl.
Johnson had only 3 yards in four carries in his first game since a horrific weight lifting accident on Sept. 28 nearly killed him and forced him to sit out the rest of the regular season and bowl game.
The running back suffered a crushed larynx, needed seven hours of surgery and was hospitalized for more than two weeks after a weight lifting bar fall on his neck. Johnson's voice remains raspy though doctors have said they expect him to make a full recovery.
"I knew I would come back," Johnson told the Orlando Sentinel. "I just didn't know when it would be. Three years from now? Two years from now? I just knew I wasn't going to give up."
Johnson was one of four USC players to compete for the South. Center Jeff Byers, tight end Anthony McCoy and safety Taylor Mays were the others.
Mays intercepted a pass by Oregon State's Sean Canfield in the end zone with 1:22 left in the second quarter.McCoy caught a five-yard pass from Florida quarterback Tim Tebow on the game's first drive.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.