The greeting on the answering machine at the home of the Zolaks in Monongahela, Pa., was a novel one: "Scott was taken as the first pick in the fourth round. If you want to leave a message . . ."
Scott Zolak, Maryland's starting quarterback last season, was indeed the first player chosen in the fourth round of the NFL draft yesterday. He was tapped by the New England Patriots as the 84th pick overall.
The only other Maryland player drafted in the first four rounds yesterday was offensive tackle Clarence Jones, by the New York Giants. He was the last player selected in the fourth round and 111th overall. A 6-foot-6, 277-pounder from Central Islip, N.Y., Jones was a four-year starter at offensive tackle.
Clearly, the Patriots like Zolak's size (6-5, 221) and strong (but somewhat erratic) arm, if not his experience. He started only one year after backing up Neil O'Donnell, now with the Pittsburgh Steelers, in 1988 and 1989.
Zolak, a Terp co-captain and four times the Atlantic Coast Conference offensive back of the week, completed 54 percent of his passes last season for 2,590 yards, but was intercepted 19 times and threw for only 10 touchdowns. Slow afoot, he was sacked 37 times.
Zolak is the latest in a line of Maryland quarterbacks who have had at least a taste of the NFL. Boomer Esiason was the first, followed by Frank Reich, Stan Gelbaugh, Dan Henning and O'Donnell. Henning was the only one who didn't stick with an NFL team.