Terps QB Steffy's season in doubt

He suffered 2 concussions in high school, still wants to play despite dangers

October 31, 2007|By Heather A. Dinich | Heather A. Dinich,Sun Reporter

COLLEGE PARK -- In addition to the two concussions Maryland quarterback Jordan Steffy has had in less than three years at Maryland, he suffered two while in high school, three sources confirmed yesterday.

Steffy, who was available to the media for the first time since he suffered the second concussion of his college career on Sept. 29 against Rutgers, was asked yesterday how concerned he is about the risk of a third if he plays during the final four games of the regular season.

"A third?" he said. "I wish."

Steffy, a junior, declined to say exactly how many he has had.

"I've had a couple," he said.

And Steffy felt the effects of the last one like never before.

The only thing Steffy said he remembered from what the Atlantic Coast Conference later deemed to be an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit was Rutgers safety Joe Lefeged jumping at him, the ball coming loose and the right side of his body going numb.

Steffy said he was still disoriented 2 1/2 weeks after it happened and couldn't remember where one of his classes was. He couldn't think straight. He was forgetting things. Noise was amplified to the point it was painful. Just standing on the sideline for the Georgia Tech game hurt because of the crowd.

"This one was pretty bad," he said. "It was something I never had experienced before on that level."

While others outside the program wondered whether Steffy was going to lose his starting job to Chris Turner because of an injury, he was too busy dealing with the pain to be concerned about the turn his career was taking.

"You can't even think about the disappointment when you can't think, period," he said.

Still, that never stopped his desire to get back on the field - especially after he waited three seasons to get on it.

"Did I want to be out there the last couple of weeks?" he said. "Sure. At the same time, when they're saying if you take another hit like that you could die ... it makes you step back and realize you don't want to risk anything like that."

How much is he willing to risk?

"As long as they say that the chances are better that it won't happen then it will," he said with a smile, "I'll keep playing."

Although Steffy has been cleared to play since last week, Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen has acknowledged another hit could end his quarterback's season, especially considering the inexperience and lack of depth on the offensive line. In the fourth quarter of last weekend's game against Clemson, though, Friedgen gave enough consideration to putting Steffy in the game to have him start warming up on the sideline. In the end, though, they decided together it wasn't worth the risk.

"It was a concern from my point, who we had in the game at that point, whether it was worth the risk," coach Ralph Friedgen said before Steffy spoke about his high school concussions. "I've been told by the doctors right now, as long as Jordan plays, he's going to have that risk and it's not going to matter if he's hit this week or two years from now - he'll be more susceptible to having concussions."

Friedgen could not be reached last night.

For the past month, Steffy has been taking computerized tests, which check his memory skills and symptoms. He has undergone several CT scans. In his absence, Turner has completed 56 of 87 passes (64.3 percent) for 726 yards.

After back-to-back losses that have likely eliminated the Terps from contending for the ACC title, Steffy said the competition at quarterback is irrelevant.

"The last thing this team needs is people bringing on drama about who's starting," he said. "That's the last thing any of us are concerned about."

Still, Friedgen said he wouldn't determine his starter for this weekend's 3:45 game at North Carolina until the end of the week.

"I'm not concerned about losing a job or anything like that," Steffy said. "The way I look at it, we still have four games to play, and am I just going to sit on the bench for the rest of the season? No, I'm not concerned about that at all."

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

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