For starters, Statham will be Maryland's QB

Friedgen gives the word: Sophomore to get call

College Football

April 22, 2004|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen confirmed yesterday what everyone already knew: Sophomore Joel Statham has earned the Terps' starting quarterback job. At least for now.

Statham, who served as Scott McBrien's backup for the second half of the 2003 season, beat out sophomore Sam Hollenbach and freshman Ryan Mitch. And, according to Friedgen, he did it easily.

"Right now, I don't think it's that close," Friedgen said. "Now, does that mean it won't be close in the fall? It depends on how much we do in the summer. I'll make the final decision in the fall, but if everything were to stay the same, it would be him."

Things are likely to stay mostly the same, although offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe said last week that incoming freshman Jordan Steffy, the Terps' prize recruit from Leola, Pa., will get an opportunity to compete for the job.

"If he's the best guy, he'll play," Taaffe said. "Obviously, we'd have to scale back our offense a lot for a freshman."

In the meantime, Maryland will spend the offseason with the expectation that Statham will lead the Terps in their season opener against Northern Illinois. Statham, who is 6 feet 1, 190 pounds, played well in Maryland's two scrimmages this spring. He'll get one final chance to impress the public Saturday during the Terps' Red and White Game.

"I've still got some things to work on, mostly being more consistent with my throws," said Statham, who played high school football in Chatsworth, Ga. "I'm going to watch a lot of film, look at some defenses, and just work on recognizing things around me."

Friedgen's main concern with Statham is the way he handles blitz pressure. When given time, Statham can pick apart defenses, but if he has to make a quick decision, he struggles. In his only action last season, Statham, who came on for an injured McBrien, went 10-for-22 and threw one interception in a 7-3 loss to Georgia Tech.

NOTE: Wide receiver Danny Melendez broke an ankle during Saturday's scrimmage, but he should be healthy by the fall.

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