Pa. quarterback boosts Terps' recruiting stock

Steffy seen as one of best at position in country

College Football

December 13, 2003|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

Ralph Friedgen readily admits that three years ago, when he first took the job at Maryland, plenty of the region's top-rated high school recruits weren't even interested in listening to his sales pitch.

Maryland, which had a string of five consecutive losing seasons, couldn't even get a lot of the best players to agree to home visits. These days, Friedgen's not only getting face time with some of the best players, but winning them over as well.

Maryland scored a significant coup in recruiting Thursday when quarterback Jordan Steffy, of Conestoga Valley High School in Leola, Pa., orally committed to play for the Terps next season. Steffy, who is 6 feet 2 and 210 pounds, is considered one of the top high school quarterbacks in the country. He chose Maryland over Penn State, Virginia Tech, Michigan State and Clemson.

Steffy, who threw for 5,587 yards and 51 touchdowns during his career at Conestoga Valley, might even be given the opportunity to compete for the starting job next season if he can grasp Friedgen's complex offense.

Quarterbacks Scott McBrien and Orlando Evans are graduating, and backup Joel Statham hasn't locked up the starting position in limited action this year.

"I think the opportunity is there [to start]," Steffy said during a news conference in Lancaster. "Scotty McBrien is a senior and so is [Evans]. With that said, and the location, in the end it was the best place."

Steffy's announcement wasn't without some drama. At the beginning of the news conference, he put on a Michigan State jersey and talked about how much admiration he had for Spartans quarterback Jeff Smoker, a close family friend. But in the end, Steffy said his respect for Smoker's accomplishments made him decide he wanted to "do the same thing for the University of Maryland."

Steffy is just the latest in a handful of blue-chip recruits Maryland has landed in this season's crop, which is turning out to be one of the highest-rated recruiting classes in the country. Rivals.com has Maryland's recruiting class ranked as the eighth best in the country.

In addition to Steffy, Maryland has received 19 oral commitments, including ones from defensive end George Covington (Eleanor Roosevelt), safety J.J. Justice (Norwich Free Academy, Conn.), safety Kent Hicks (Culpeper, Va.), offensive lineman Scott Burley (Woodlawn) and linebacker Chase Bullock (Durham, N.C.). All are ranked in the top 20 at their positions in the nation.

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