CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -Justin Zwick was watching a lot of movies at his parents' house in Ohio, close to giving up his dream.
``I'm thinking I've got to start earning some money some time, and I can't live off my parents forever,'' the former Ohio State quarterback said Monday. ``Then all of sudden you get a call.''
The Carolina Panthers wanted to give Zwick a shot to keep his football career alive.
Zwick, who had stayed in shape since leaving college, first worked out for the team Thursday and the Panthers signed him over the weekend. He practiced at an optional workout Monday.
``He was somebody we were thinking about,'' general manager Marty Hurney said. ``We just took a look at him and figured we'd sign him and bring him in this week.''
Hardly a ringing endorsement, but Zwick said he'll take it.
For a player who entered college with great fanfare and left as a forgotten backup behind Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, Zwick just wants to get invited to an NFL training camp.
``It's tough playing behind a Heisman Trophy winner,'' said Zwick, who went undrafted. ``I learned a lot, probably more life lessons than on the football field. Coming in with all that and then having to humble yourself and sit behind somebody, that's a life lesson.
``But it was a good opportunity to learn, and move on from there.''
Zwick faces long odds with Carolina. He is the fifth quarterback on the roster, behind starter Jake Delhomme, backup David Carr, third-string Brett Basanez and fellow undrafted rookie Dalton Bell.
Last year, the Panthers carried only two quarterbacks, while Basanez was on the practice squad.
``It's better than not having the opportunity, to be down here throwing balls,'' Zwick said. ``Whether they want to bring me back for training camp or whatever, it's better to have this opportunity, to have a chance to be called back. I'm looking at it as a great opportunity.''
Zwick was a Parade All-American after a stellar high school career in Ohio, and he chose to stay close to home after being heavily recruited. Zwick became the Buckeyes' starter in his sophomore year, but he was injured halfway through the season.
Smith stepped in, and Zwick never regained his full-time starter position. He led Ohio State to a win over Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl when Smith was suspended, and he played well in a game against Texas, but he mostly watched from the sideline.
``The career didn't go as well as I wanted it to, but that was the hand I was dealt,'' Zwick said.
At 6-foot-4 with a quick release, Zwick has some tools. But he knows he faces long odds to make it in the NFL. In between movies and workouts at his parents' house, Zwick was contemplating taking a sales job in Columbus, Ohio and maybe doing some television work for Ohio State broadcasts.
``Now I have to come out and see if I could throw a little bit and get into a training camp,'' Zwick said. ``That's all I'm focused on.''

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