Va. Tech is bad memory for UM's displaced Steffy

October 17, 2005|By HEATHER A. DINICH | HEATHER A. DINICH,SUN REPORTER

COLLEGE PARK -- Unlike his teammates and coaches, Maryland quarterback Jordan Steffy doesn't remember too much about last year's 55-6 loss to Virginia Tech other than his final three plays. He completed a pass, and ran for 12 yards.

And then came the hit that left him unconscious.

Steffy, then a 19-year-old freshman, was admitted to a hospital near Virginia Tech after he collided with the Hokies' James Anderson, who had intercepted a pass.

"As he was coming down, I dove at him and we hit helmet to helmet," Steffy said.

Steffy, one of the most sought-after recruits from Pennsylvania in 2003, hasn't played since. The staff plans to redshirt him this season, but after the unexpected emergence of junior quarterback Sam Hollenbach this fall, it's hardly as if the Terps will be desperate for a starting quarterback next year - even if Steffy might be the best of the three.

Still, Steffy said he plans to stick around and compete for the spotlight.

His current role is on the sidelines, usually standing shoulder pad to shoulder pad with former starter Joel Statham, another quarterback who has been displaced by Hollenbach. Steffy and Statham wear headsets and signal in plays from offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe.

"Sam has done a pretty good job," Steffy said of his teammate, who leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in total offense after spending the majority of last year as a fourth-string quarterback. "Not to take anything away from that, but I didn't come to college to signal in plays from the sideline.

"I'm going to do everything I can in the offseason to prepare myself to help the team win - whether both of us play next year or what - but I can't have the mind-set of, `Oh well, Sam's got one more year.' I don't think that would be fair to myself or the team."

His success at Conestoga Valley High School in Lancaster, Pa., drew offers from Penn State, Michigan State, Virginia Tech and Clemson. He was a versatile quarterback who as a senior completed 63 percent of his passes for 1,825 yards, 18 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He also rushed for 486 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Steffy held a news conference to announce his decision, and his arrival at Maryland coincided with an opportunity to play early. Statham was struggling, having thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, and coach Ralph Friedgen needed a playmaker.

When Steffy went down, though, against Virginia Tech, Hollenbach went in. Now, as the Hokies practice for their game at Maryland on Thursday, it's Hollenbach they're preparing to defend.

"He's certainly got a foothold on the position," Taaffe said.

And deservedly so. Hollenbach has completed 65 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns and 1,513 yards. He has also accounted for two rushing touchdowns.

Still, Taaffe said he spoke with Steffy on Wednesday and reminded him to stay prepared.

"I said, `You've got to make sure you stay focused, because even though you're not playing - and that's the plan - there are two scenarios,'" Taaffe said. "`One is if we get in a situation where you've got to play for us to win the game, then that's probably what's going to happen. Secondly, you have to prepare yourself mentally for next spring so you don't get so totally behind on the offense you're basically starting all over again.'"

Steffy played in six games last year and completed 12 of 32 pass attempts for 132 yards and an interception.

As limited as it was, Steffy said that experience was invaluable.

"All the questions of can I do this or what's it going to be like, all those questions are gone," he said. "I've been in there, and I've experienced them already."

One thing he hasn't experienced with the Terps yet is a spring practice. He had knee surgery to repair a meniscus tear. Steffy said last week he was pain-free and can't wait to start - even if he has to share it with Hollenbach.

"I'm going to play," he said. "I don't think that's a question."

It just might be a while until he does.

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

No. 3 Virginia Tech@Maryland

Thursday, 7:45 p.m., ESPN, 1300 AM, 105.7 FM Line: Va. Tech by 10 1/2

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