Terps' Scott Tops For Steelers

Maryland Cornerback Selected At No. 24 In 1st Round By Pittsburgh

April 20, 1997|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Chad Scott's adventure with the NFL draft ended right where he wanted it to yesterday.

Scott, a Maryland cornerback by way of Towson State and Suitland High, was the 24th player taken in the draft, as the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him with their first-round choice.

He is the first Terp taken in the first round in 13 years, lofty territory for a gifted athlete who was deemed unworthy of a major-college scholarship five years ago.

"I'm not going to say that I never thought about being a first-round draft choice," Scott said, "but yeah, this is pretty satisfying, considering where I started out."

He had an unfulfilling senior season and missed the Senior Bowl in January with a groin injury, but it was all about happy endings yesterday, as Scott was among the deepest position in the draft. He was the fifth of six cornerbacks taken in the first round, and it was a vast contrast to when he was ignored by Division I-A schools coming out of Suitland, then one of the worst prep programs in Prince George's County.

Scott was redshirted as a freshman at Towson State in 1992, played two years there, but transferred to Maryland after the 1994 season with the blessing of coach Gordy Combs after the Tigers moved to nonscholarship football. Scott began spring practice in 1995 with the Terps as a walk-on, but quickly earned a scholarship and a starting berth.

Scott, 6 feet 1 and 200 pounds, made an immediate impact in the Atlantic Coast Conference, as few teams threw his way. As a senior, he had a team-high five interceptions, but he worried that Maryland's lack of success would hinder his professional chances.

"It was relevant," Scott said of a 5-6 record that cost coach Mark Duffner his job. "The better the team is, the more [NFL scouts] are going to come look at them. Good players make for good teams, and winning teams draw interest."

Maryland has won no more than six games since 1985, and the Terps haven't had a first-round selection since 1984, when they had two -- defensive tackle Ron Solt being taken by the Indianapolis Colts and defensive end Pete Koch going to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Scott thought he had found the spotlight in January in Mobile, Ala., at the Senior Bowl, the premier all-star game. He pulled a groin muscle early in the week, however, and was unable to play. Because of the injury Scott decided not to be tested in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine.

"Since I didn't work out at the combine, everyone said I was afraid to show my speed, but the groin pull was a legitimate injury," Scott said. "Everyone knew how fast I was. I ran a 4.38 at Maryland in an individual workout, and I think about 25 [NFL] teams saw that."

Scott should be a big hit with Bill Cowher, the Steelers' coach.

"Certain guys fit certain schemes better, and we felt he fit our scheme," Cowher said. "This guy can run from one side of the field to another and his motor won't stop. He's a big guy who can run and hit you and has tremendous ability to get to the ball."

Scott should get a chance to play immediately. The Steelers were left without a starting cornerback when Willie Williams (Seattle) and Deon Figures (Jacksonville) signed elsewhere and they could not come to terms with veteran Rod Woodson. They did sign veteran cornerback Donnell Woolford yesterday, and hope the former Chicago Bear can leave his off-the-field problems behind him.

Several draft experts had projected Scott as a second-round pick or lower, but he had heard other rumors.

"I thought I was going to go to Houston, because I had heard that they were trading down to get me," Scott said. "I was able to sleep late. I basically laid around my apartment and waited. My family came around and watched with me. In three days, my son Michael is going to be 4."

To April 22, add April 19 to the days Scott will mark on his calendar.

Pub Date: 4/20/97

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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