Patriots take Maryland's Glenn Va. star McGonnigal selected by Steelers

April 23, 1991|By Mike Preston

University of Maryland offensive tackle Clarence Jones was the last player selected in the first day of the National Football League draft Sunday. Jones' celebration lasted only a little while.

Only minutes after Jones, 6 feet 6, 277 pounds, had been picked by the New York Giants in the fourth round, Jones was in the dormitory of teammate, friend and fellow offensive tackle O'Neil Glenn, who had not been drafted.

"I was very happy for Clarence," said Glenn, 6-2, 283. "He came over, but he knew my head was out of it. He just kept telling me that I had already proved I was better than a lot of people thought and that my time would eventually come."

It did. Glenn was the first player chosen in the ninth round by the New England Patriots yesterday, joining teammate and quarterback Scott Zolak, who was chosen by the Patriots in the fourth round Sunday.

"It looks like Scott has a bodyguard going with him," said Jones, smiling.

Glenn, who will play guard in the NFL, said: "I thank the Lord for this opportunity. The New England Patriots are a team with a new coach, and they are looking for some young players on which to build. They have already told me I have a chance to start. I'm happy, but I'm really not that happy yet. I still have to make the team."

The Patriots drafted two offensive linemen before Glenn, tackle Pat Harlow of Southern Cal and guard Calvin Stephens of South Carolina, stacking the odds against him.

But Glenn has beaten the odds before. He was a long shot to start for Maryland after suffering a broken femur two years ago, causing him to miss the 1988 season. The injury occurred during the off-season, after Glenn had transferred from Nassau (N.Y.) -- Community College.

Recurring leg problems caused him to miss part of the 1989 season, and a position switch had him playing third-string guard by the end of the year.

But Glenn had a strong spring and graded out last season as the vTC Terps' best offensive lineman. Glenn also had a strong showing at the scouting combine in Indianapolis nearly two months ago.

"Just getting drafted isn't bad for only playing one year, huh?" said Glenn, who runs 40 yards in 4.9 seconds and squats more than 500 pounds.

Glenn said scouts from the Atlanta Falcons and the Pittsburgh Steelers told him they were going to take him in the fifth round. The Falcons flew him to Atlanta Friday, he said, and the Steelers called him Saturday night saying they were going to select him.

"You hear so much," said Glenn. "I really believed them, and when it didn't happen, I just tried to keep myself on an even keel. I was trying to keep my mind off it."

That's where Jones helped out.

"From the past drafts, I learned that if you don't go in the first round, you can go anywhere after that," said Jones. "I thought O'Neil had a real strong showing at the combine, and I was sure he would get his chance. I'm glad it's over now. I have a great opportunity ahead of me, and I feel relieved and happy for the both of us."

Virginia tight end and former Loyola High standout Bruce McGonnigal also was drafted in the ninth round, by the Pittsburgh Steelers. McGonnigal, 6-5, 235, was projected as a mid-round pick, but a fall in which he bruised his kidney and damaged his spleen caused him to miss the second half of the season.

"I don't know if the injury lowered my stock; it may have," McGonnigal said yesterday. "I sprained my ankle in the Hula Bowl and really haven't gotten my legs back yet.

"I think I impressed the Steelers because I can also long-snap. I'm really happy and very excited to get drafted. I've really got to go to work now. The draft is just an opportunity. Now it's up to me to compete.

"I know the Steelers have a couple of tight ends, including Eric Green. But that means I have to work harder to find a spot."

McGonnigal's size also was considered a handicap by some NFL scouts.

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