Gaither Is Ravens' Supplemental Draft Selection

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Baltimore Ravens selected Jared Gaither, the talented but troubled tackle from the University of Maryland, in the fifth round of yesterday's NFL supplemental draft.

For a relatively low price -- forfeiture of their fifth-round pick in next April's college draft -- the Ravens acquired a potential impact player for an offensive line that has been transformed significantly this offseason.

"This is my biggest dream," Gaither said.

During two tumultuous seasons at Maryland, Gaither showed flashes of his potential to become one of college football's top tackles. From both tackle spots, he bullied pass rushers with his 6-foot-9, 324-pound frame and showed impressive speed for his size.

Gaither's contributions, however, were mitigated by off-field problems. He was suspended for two weeks during preseason practice last year because of disciplinary reasons and missed the 2006 season opener.

He was kept out of spring practice this year because of academic problems that ultimately derailed his career with the Terrapins. After being declared academically ineligible last month, he entered the supplemental draft.

"I take full responsibility for those actions," Gaither said. "Maryland gave me every chance that they could possibly give me.

"The work kind of got piled up on me coming in and playing as a true freshman and not being able to redshirt. It was kind of a shock. That kind of hurt my grades early on, and I think it was an uphill battle from there. I feel I learned a lesson: I always can work harder."

Gaither, a resident of White Plains, said he is eager to put his troubles at Maryland behind him. Gaither joins a Ravens' offensive line that changed more than any other position group this offseason.

Starting right tackle Tony Pashos signed a free agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and veteran left guard Edwin Mulitalo was released. Those departures, and the promotions of Jason Brown to starting left guard and Adam Terry to starting right tackle, thinned the line's depth.

Baltimore addressed that concern in April's draft, selecting Auburn guard Ben Grubbs with the 29th overall pick and guard-tackle Marshal Yanda out of Iowa in the third round.

Now, Gaither will join them in a talented rookie class of linemen.

"Jared has a chance to play in this league, even at a high level," Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement.

Baltimore also signed linebacker Antwan Barnes, one of its two fourth-round draft picks, to a three-year contract.

-- Rich Campbell

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