The New England Patriots took University of Maryland quarterback Scott Zolak with the first selection of the fourth round in the National Football League draft last night, making him the fifth quarterback selected overall.
Zolak, 6 feet 5, 220 pounds, from Monongahela, Pa., threw for 2,590 yards last season, guiding Maryland to a 6-5-1 record and an appearance in the Poulan-Weed Eater Independence Bowl, the Terps' first winning season and bowl appearance since 1985.
Maryland offensive tackle Clarence Jones, 6-6, 277, also was drafted in the fourth round last night, by the New York Giants. Jones, from Central Islip (N.Y.) High, was the 111th player taken overall, Zolak the 84th.
The Giants, San Diego Chargers, Los Angeles Raiders and Patriots had shown the most interest in Zolak, but Zolak said he knew the Patriots were the most serious after flying him to their home offices last week.
"This is a great situation for me because of New England's quarterback situation," said Zolak. "I'm also happy because it keeps me on the East Coast. I had a gut feeling it would be New England because they were the only team that flew me out for a visit."
Zolak said New England coach Dick MacPherson called him yesterday to congratulate him. It was also MacPherson, when he was head coach at Syracuse, who tried to recruit Zolak out of high school.
"Coach MacPherson is enthusiastic and has proven that he is a great coach by what he did at Syracuse," said Zolak. "I look forward to the challenge."
Zolak, after attending church, said he spent yesterday watching the draft on television. Zolak's father, Paul, said they were hoping three quarterbacks would be taken in the first round, pushing Zolak up higher in the draft.
"We had heard from a number of agents, scouts and general managers that Scott would go in the fourth to fifth rounds," said Paul Zolak, the athletic director and former coach at Ringgold High School in Monongahela, who once coached San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. "But the first round lasted so long, and then the Raiders unexpectedly took [Southern Cal quarterback Todd] Marinovich, so we didn't know if the fourth and fifth rounds would get in today."
Scott Zolak said: "I'm just glad it did. This was a long day."
Zolak spent his first four years at Maryland on the bench playing behind Dan Henning and Neil O'Donnell. Last year, O'Donnell was drafted in the third round by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Zolak's play was inconsistent at times, but Maryland head coach Joe Krivak attributed that to lack of playing time. Pro scouts were impressed by Zolak's strong arm, physical stature and enthusiasm.
"This is a great thing for him," said Krivak, who has worked with pro quarterbacks Boomer Esiason of the Cincinnati Bengals and Frank Reich of the Buffalo Bills. "The Patriots are in the need of a quarterback, and it's an opportunity for him to play there."
Jones was a four-year starter at Maryland and could play at either tackle. Jones has exceptional quickness and mobility.