Milanovich still in a holding pattern Terp waits to see effect of suspension in draft

April 20, 1996|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Is he another Neil O'Donnell, or another Art Schlichter?

That's the question the NFL has asked about quarterback Scott Milanovich, whose career at Maryland was marked more by controversies than wins. Milanovich has most of the Terps' passing records, but his senior season was played under the glare of a four-game gambling suspension, which could affect his position in the NFL draft this weekend.

His agent, Tony Agnone of Eastern Athletics, said he is confident that they've been able to convince NFL teams that Milanovich doesn't have a gambling problem.

"Initially, people made Scott out to be another Art Schlichter," said Agnone, referring to the Baltimore Colts' No. 1 pick in 1982 whose career was derailed by a gambling addiction. "That's far from the truth, and I think we've been able to overcome that perception.

"We took an aggressive approach, and presented the information as early as possible. Scott talked about it at the Blue-Gray game, the Hula Bowl and in personal interviews. I talked to teams about it. It could still have some effect on where he's taken. The question is, how much and to what extent do they feel uncomfortable with him?"

Milanovich was suspended for Maryland's first four games after an internal investigation found that he bet $200 on college football and basketball over several years.

He underwent more than just the routine psychological testing at the NFL scouting combine in February.

"I'm sure what I got was different from everyone else," Milanovich said. "They wanted to know about the suspension, and they go into that more."

According to Milanovich, a member of NFL Security, the league's private investigation firm, went to his hometown of Butler, Pa., to check on his background.

Milanovich had time for additional personality and psychological evaluations at the scouting combine because he didn't participate in the physical tests. He was rehabilitating a sprained ankle.

The case of Steve Ingram, his left tackle for his sophomore and junior seasons, was one reason Milanovich passed on physical tests while less than 100 percent. Ingram had a slow 40-yard dash time at the 1995 combine. A month earlier, some experts said that Ingram would be drafted in the first round, but he didn't go until the seventh.

Milanovich, who can give a team a third quarterback who could handle its punting by 1997 or '98, expects a call during tomorrow's late rounds.

Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' director of pro personnel, said that Baltimore's new NFL team is interested in Milanovich. Clyde Christensen, Milanovich's quarterback coach his first three years Maryland, now has that position with Tampa Bay. Agnone said that the Giants, Rams, Chiefs and several other teams are interested.

Milanovich is generally regarded as the seventh-best prospect in a thin crop of quarterbacks, but the depth at wide receiver could keep Jermaine Lewis, his prime target over the last three years, on the board longer.

Like Milanovich, Lewis was suspended by the NCAA for gambling last season, but for only one game. "I know the numbers said otherwise, but one defensive coordinator said he thought Jermaine was the fastest guy in the draft," said Ray Anderson, Lewis' agent.

Virginia Tech's Bryan Still had the fastest 40 time at the combine, but Lewis hasn't lost any of the quickness that made him a national prep sprint champ four years ago. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper rates Lewis (5 feet 7 1/2 , 173 pounds) as the 23rd-best prospect at receiver, but his stock is enhanced by his potential as a return man and his brief stint as tailback in the I-formation.

Pub Date: 4/20/96

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