Panthers give Ohio State’s Zwick a shot
By By MIKE CRANSTON, AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE — Justin Zwick was watching a lot of movies at his parents’ house in Ohio, close to giving up his dream.
The Carolina Panthers wanted to give Zwick a shot to keep his football career alive.
Zwick, who had stayed in shape since leaving college, first worked out for the team Thursday and the Panthers decided to sign him over the weekend. He practiced at an optional workout Monday.
Hardly a ringing endorsement, but Zwick said he’ll take it.
For a player who entered college with great fanfare and left as a forgotten backup behind Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, Zwick just wants to get invited to an NFL training camp.
Zwick faces long odds with Carolina. He is the fifth quarterback on the roster, behind starter Jake Delhomme, backup David Carr, third-string Brett Basanez and fellow undrafted rookie Dalton Bell.
Last year, the Panthers carried only two quarterbacks on the roster, while Basanez was on the practice squad.
Zwick was a Parade All-American after a stellar high school career in Ohio, and he chose to stay close to home after being heavily recruited. Zwick became the Buckeyes’ starter in his sophomore year, but he was injured halfway through the season.
Smith stepped in, and Zwick never regained his full-time starter position. He led Ohio State to a win over Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl when Smith was suspended, and he played well in a game against Texas, but he mostly watched from the sidelines.
At 6-foot-4 with a quick release, Zwick has some tools. But he knows he faces long odds to make it in the NFL. In between movies and workouts at his parents’ house, Zwick was contemplating taking a sales job in Columbus, Ohio and maybe doing some television work for Ohio State broadcasts.