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Steffy gets keys to drive Terps

August 30, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Jordan Steffy was sure of one thing when it came to becoming the University of Maryland's starting quarterback.

He wasn't going to be an Indian giver.

The redshirt junior entered spring practice and summer training camp as the top candidate to replace Sam Hollenbach as Maryland's quarterback. And as unofficial as it was, the last thing he was going to do was give the job back.

"To be honest, I came into camp as the starter and approached it like it was my job," Steffy said calmly Tuesday during Maryland's weekly media conference, before he starts as the Terrapins' quarterback in Saturday's home and season opener against Villanova.

If time invested and loyalty meant anything, Steffy should have been guaranteed the job the minute the 2006 season ended. But it didn't work that way.

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Steffy had to fight for the job, competing with Florida transfer Josh Portis and Chris Turner. When camp started, Friedgen said he was only going to wait a week to make the decision on who would start.

But the training camp competition was spirited with each of the three quarterbacks showing different talents to challenge for the job - Steffy had experience in the offense, Portis had the ability to improvise on the run and Turner was pulling off big plays during scrimmages.

Friedgen's one-week time limit became a three-week saga with Steffy officially being anointed as the Terps' next QB last weekend.

"We named Jordan Steffy as our starting quarterback," Friedgen said. "Jordan has played really well, not only in camp but also in spring ball, and I think he's a clear leader. He's never strayed from the course.

"I see this in kids all the time: When things don't go well, they look to do something else. He hasn't done that. He's worked very hard. I'm really hoping he's successful, because the way he has prepared and the way he has fought through this adversity, and I really have a lot of confidence that he will."

Steffy didn't mind the wait.

"It wouldn't have mattered if Coach would have decided the first day, in a week or at the end of camp. I worked at it like I was the starter," Steffy said. "It didn't change a thing. I still had to go out and practice and execute. I wasn't going to change the way I did things."

A lot of what Steffy believes and has learned comes with the maturity he gained by standing on the sidelines for his first three years at Maryland, one as a redshirt.

"I think there's experience, and the time I've been here. Knowing the offense, things like that gave me a bit of an advantage," he said. "I know that we have playmakers at receiver. I know our running backs are going to make things a lot easier for me. I don't have to go out and win every game. I don't have to go out and throw a touchdown every pass. I understand that. So for me, the biggest thing is directing everything and making sure I do the little things."

The Terps have added plays to the offense to utilize the mobility Steffy - and Portis - possess to help open the offense. They both have the ability to run and roll out for passes. Friedgen said that Portis will see playing time in appropriate situations, but the starting job is all Steffy's.

Still, Steffy will have to perform. To date, he doesn't really have a great portfolio to flash, considering he is 12-for-37 for 132 yards with no touchdowns and two interception in his career to go with a minus-31 yards rushing.

"That's the next step," Friedgen said. "He has to be able to go out, relax and make plays like he has been in practice. If I can get him to play like he has in practice, we're going to be fine. I think he wants to do well so badly that sometimes he tightens up. It hasn't really been a whole lot different from the quarterbacks we've had here in the past. You've just got to get over it."

That makes Saturday's starting debut against Villanova all the more important for Steffy.

"It's going to be emotional for me because it's been four years since I've started a game," Steffy said. "But at the same time, it's no different than in practice. Obviously I'm excited. The most important thing I have to remember is it's a long game. The first series is not going to win the game."

The wait is now over for Steffy. It was just a matter of patience.

"Everything happens for a reason. I just continued to hang in there and now we're at this point," Steffy said. "I never question God's timing. I know God has a plan for every one of us, so I never really questioned that."

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