By Joe Scalzo
As the final rounds of Saturday’s NFL draft wore on, Jamaine Cook’s phone stayed silent while his mind started to race.
“During the sixth and seventh round, I did not get one single call,” the former YSU running back said. “I was extremely frustrated.
“So I just went for a walk by myself and I got a call from a 216 [area code] number. I was thinking it was one of my family members, so I said, ‘Hello, who is this?’ And he was like, ‘It’s so-and-so from the Cleveland Browns.’ And I was like, ‘Wait a minute. Are you serious?’ ”
He was. By the end of the phone call, Cook was headed to his hometown team as an undrafted free agent, one of three Penguins to sign with NFL teams after the draft. Tight end Will Shaw signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers and guard Lamar Mady is headed to the Oakland Raiders.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Mooney High graduate Michael Zordich got picked up by the Carolina Panthers as a UFA, becoming the second Cardinal to earn an NFL spot Saturday after John Simon was picked in the fourth round by the Baltimore Ravens.
“It’s kind of surreal right now,” said Zordich, a fullback out of Penn State. “I’ll probably wake up tomorrow and realize it happened.”
Zordich, whose father Mike played 12 years in the NFL with the Jets, Cardinals and Eagles, started getting calls toward the end of the draft from interested teams. He chose the Panthers because he liked the way their offense uses the fullback.
“We had a whole list of teams set up and once Carolina gave us the offer, we jumped on it,” Zordich said. “We made the decision and we’re ready to roll with it.”
Shaw, a Baltimore native, had heard whispers of the Steelers’ interest over the past few months but had never heard from anyone in Pittsburgh. He said the Steelers were the first ones to call him after the draft.
“They said they know I’m a hard-working guy and they think I can really learn the position and contribute on special teams,” said Shaw, who converted to tight end midway through his three-year YSU career. “I’m willing to learn and I’m always trying to get better.”
One problem. Most in his family are Ravens fans.
“Yeah, I’m not sure how I’m going to break it to them,” he said. “I’m sure my mom will convert, but I’m not too sure about my pops and my aunts and uncles.”
As a Cleveland native, Cook has no such problems.
“This worked out perfectly,” said Cook, who went to high school 10 minutes away from the Browns’ facility in Berea. “After speaking to the running backs coach, he said there’s going to be pure competition and once he said that, my eyes lit up.
“That’s all I want — an opportunity to compete and prove I can play with the best. It’s not about where you start. It’s about where you finish. And I want to finish on that 53-man roster.”