Who Is Greg Zolman?

March 16 - Brad Johnson? Tampa Bay's starting quarterback for the past two years and the guiding force on offense. Shane Matthews? Former Florida Gators quarterback who has had recent stints with Chicago and Washington. Greg Zolman? Who the heck is Greg Zolman? As Tampa Bay's offseason quarterback school begins on Monday, find out in this PewterReport.com INSIDER story.

As Tampa Bay's quarterback school opens on Monday, March 17, head coach Jon Gruden knows who all three of his pupils are, but the same can't be said for most Bucs fans.

Fans have come to know quarterback Brad Johnson, who has started the past two years, and appreciate him after he delivered the Buccaneers its first Super Bowl championship last year.

Fans may also know of Shane Matthews, who starred at the University of Florida and has been a journeyman in the NFL with recent stops in Chicago and Washington.

But most fans aren't too familiar with Greg Zolman, who is the third quarterback in Gruden's class.

Zolman, who signed with the Bucs on January 31, was an undrafted free agent out of Vanderbilt last year. He signed with the Indianapolis Colts after the draft, but was waived at the end of the preseason. In late December, Zolman spent one week on Green Bay's practice squad before hitting the free agent market once the Packers' season ended.

The Bucs like the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder who set career records at Vanderbilt by completing 596-of-1,156 passes for 7,981 yards. Zolman's 41 touchdown passes ties the Commodores' all-time record. Despite throwing for 2,512 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions as a senior, Zolman got passed over in the draft because of his low completion percentage (52.1) and the fact that Vanderbilt's offense is traditionally one of the worst in college football.

But Tampa Bay became intrigued with the intelligent, left-handed quarterback after further film study, and chalked up his low completion percentage to the fact that he had a lot of dropped passes as the result of playing with inferior talent on offense at Vanderbilt.

"He's a lefty who is bright, mobile and fairly athletic," said Bucs director of college scouting Ruston Webster. "He's got a good mind and good talent."

One of the main reasons why the Bucs signed Zolman was the fact that he had the smarts to quickly absorb and learn Gruden's immense playbook in time for Tampa Bay's first mini-camp, which will take place in early May. Until Matthews' signing on Friday, he and Johnson were the only passers on the roster.

The fact that Zolman grew up in Dayton, Ohio and that Gruden played college football for the University of Dayton certainly didn't hurt in his initial interview with the Bucs.

Because he wasn't drafted, Zolman obviously has some weaknesses to his game. Those negatives documented before the 2002 NFL Draft included his accuracy, and the fact that Zolman, who some scouts compared to Alex Van Pelt in terms of physical tools, may get too emotional at times and lose his cool.

Zolman will have to keep his cool, digest the playbook and impress Gruden as he fights an uphill battle against Matthews and possibly Shaun King and/or Jim Miller to win a roster spot in September. His fight begins on Monday.

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