McLaughlin 'nuts' about Rams pick

By Eric Wein

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Rich Brooks watched Steve McLaughlin kick three field goals and provide the UA football team with all of its points last fall when Oregon beat the Wildcats 10-9 in Eugene.

It was apparent Saturday that Brooks was impressed with what he saw.

McLaughlin became the first UA player chosen in this year's NFL draft Saturday after Brooks, the new coach of the now-St. Louis Rams, told him the Rams would make the former UA kicker their third-round pick, 82nd overall.

"I just went nuts," McLaughlin said of hearing the news. "I was just extremely happy. Any time you have a chance to play for Rich Brooks and with the tradition the Rams have it's a great honor."

On the next pick, the Chicago Bears took linebacker Sean Harris with the 83rd pick.

St. Louis added another UA player yesterday, selecting defensive back Mike Scurlock in the fifth round, 140th overall.

McLaughlin is unaware as to what the Rams' plans are for him, but he is excited to be part of the team's first season in Missouri.

"They're building a new domed stadium. It's a great situation and a good opportunity for me as a kicker to be in a dome," he said. "I haven't been told anything other than I would be drafted."

The team will hold training camp in southern California and then play exhibition games in Busch Stadium before moving into the new facility, McLaughlin said.

Last week, McLaughlin was unsure if he would be drafted or not. But in hindsight yesterday, he had a different outlook.

"In this draft I've learned nothing is surprising," he said. "I wasn't surprised at all. I had a lot of good workouts for teams and I knew anything could happen."

Brooks, the head coach at Oregon for 18 years, guided the Ducks to their first Rose Bowl in 37 years last season before the Rams hired him this year.

"Any time you have a chance to play for a guy like that, it's a great honor," said McLaughlin, last year's Lou Groza Award winner as the best college kicker in the country. "You thank your lucky stars."

Harris was told he would probably be a special teams player his first year while still seeing playing time as a linebacker.

Harris, who like McLaughlin has never been to the city where his pro team plays, was reminded by the Chicago coaches of the Bears' linebacker tradition through the years, which includes Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary.

"They seemed excited for me to come up there," Harris said. "They expect I'll be a linebacker that runs around and makes a lot of plays for them."

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