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Jack Scarbath, All-America quarterback at Maryland and 1952 Heisman Trophy runner-up, dies at 90

Jack Scarbath, an All-America quarterback at Maryland in the 1950s, died Sunday at 90, the university announced Monday.

A Hamilton native, Scarbath played football at Poly, where former Maryland coach and president Dr. Harry C. Byrd noticed him and ultimately gave him a scholarship.

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Scarbath, who also played lacrosse at Maryland, led the Terps to a 24-4-1 record in the early 1950s, including 22 straight wins and a 28-13 upset victory over defending national champion Tennessee in the 1951 Sugar Bowl. Scarbath completed his first six passes and rushed for a touchdown to end the Volunteers’ 20-game winning streak.

“[Maryland] Coach [Jim] Tatum had come to me and said, ‘We’re roommates tonight,’” Scarbath told The Baltimore Sun in 2014, recounting the night before the Sugar Bowl. “I thought, uh, what did I do? I took the top bunk and he had the bottom, and he held a coaching clinic right there, asking me what I would do on such-and-such a play. He kept at it until I fell asleep. It worked.”

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Scarbath was voted a unanimous first-team All-American in 1952 and was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, given annually to the top player in college football, to Oklahoma running back Billy Vessels. He was also named the Southern Conference Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player of the East-West Shrine Game.

Washington selected Scarbath with the third overall pick in the 1953 NFL draft. In 1955, Scarbath played for the Ottawa Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League before finishing his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1956.

Scarbath, a member of the university’s Board of Regents, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984.

An industrial engineering major, he started a business selling abrasive materials and retired in 1992. He was also a celebrated artist, carving waterfowl of all shapes and sizes. As of 2014, Scarbath and his wife, Lynn, lived on a 100-acre farm in Rising Sun.

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