COLLEGE PARK -- Scott Zolak, Maryland's quarterback emeritus, strode into the room, studied the list of recruits and whistled.
"Outstanding," Zolak said. "It just goes to show what a year will do, and how one group of seniors turned it around."
Zolak, of course, is one of those seniors who turned it around, leading Maryland last fall to its first winning season since 1985.
The Terps intend to parlay that into even greater success. They took a step in that direction by rounding up 20 highly rated players when the NCAA's period for signing letters of intent started yesterday. The period ends April 1.
Coach Joe Krivak and his assistants were forbidden by NCAA rules from discussing the opening-day crop in anything but general terms, but Zolak's lips weren't sealed.
"I've heard this class of recruits is possibly among the top 20 in the country," Zolak said. "I haven't heard that about Maryland since my class in 1986. The coaches did a great job recruiting.
"Our wide-open style of play obviously excited some kids, especially quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers."
Zolak was particularly pleased that Maryland landed Scott Milanovich, a quarterback from Butler, Pa., not far from his hometown of Monongahela.
"There are a lot of similarities," Zolak said. "He's from near me in Western Pennsylvania, we both played basketball as well as football, we're about the same size, his dad's a high school athletic director and so is mine. He'll probably be in the Big 33 game this summer like I was and we were both on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette all-star team."
Zolak also praised the addition of Montgomery College-Rockville quarterback John Kaleo, Randallstown High running back Larry Washington and DeMatha kicker/punter Dave DeArmas, whose brother Dan is the Terps' senior kicker.
Krivak's comments were guarded: "This is a representative group. We won't really find out about them until they've been here a year, but they're comparable with past classes. I'm sure they'll add a lot to the program."
In addition to Kaleo, Washington and DeArmas, Maryland signed four other players from the state -- running back Rick Budd of Fort Hill, offensive lineman John Teter of College Park, tight end Kevin Washington of Dunbar High and running back Raphael Wall of Wilde Lake High.