NEW YORK ? The Baltimore Ravens selected Ohio punter Dave Zastudil in the fourth round of the NFL Draft on Sunday. As the 112th player selected, he became the first punter ever drafted by the Ravens and the first player from the Mid-American Conference picked in 2002.
?We know (Zastudil) can come in here and punt from Day One,? Ravens director of college scouting Phil Savage said, ?and the other players we were considering in the fourth round were players who might need some development, and we may not be able to utilize them for another year or two. Here?s somebody that does fill a need for us.?
The selection of Zastudil, a left-footed punter who also has the ability to kick off, means that free-agent punter Kyle Richardson ? who spent the past five seasons in Baltimore ? will not be returning, according to the Ravens? official website.
After leading the MAC in punting for the fourth consecutive season in 2001, Zastudil was named All-American by numerous organizations including the Associated Press and the Football Writers Association of America. He became the 26th Bobcat player chosen in a professional football draft and the first since kicker Mike Green in 1976.
?It just shows you that with hard work and dedication, you can be drafted and have a chance in the NFL,? said Zastudil, a native of Bay Village who finished his marketing degree requirements last November and will graduate in June. ?It?s just good that Ohio University is starting to get more notice on a national level. Hopefully by being drafted I can help contribute to the notoriety of this university.?
Zastudil also became the 31st player from the MAC chosen since the NFL draft went to its current seven-round format in 1994. The only other special teamer picked from the MAC during that time period was former Ball State and current Chicago Bears punter Brad Maynard, who was selected by the New York Giants in the third round with the 95th overall pick of the 1997 draft.
Joining Zastudil at Baltimore?s mini-camps this spring will be Toledo running back Chester Taylor, who the Ravens chose in the sixth round with the 207th overall pick. In all, five MAC players were selected in the 2002 Draft. The conference has provided at least four picks in each of the past six drafts including a high of seven in 2000 and a total of 35 since the seven-round format was adopted in 1994.
The history of Ohio football players being drafted goes back to the very first NFL draft in 1936 when the New York Giants selected Bobcat tackle Art ?Pappy? Lewis as their first-ever choice. Only two other Ohio players ? Todd Snyder in 1970 and Al Benton in 1972 ? were chosen as high as Zastudil. Snyder, a wide receiver, was taken in the third round with the 65th overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons while Benton, a tackle, was the 103rd choice in the fourth round by the Miami Dolphins.