Steffy gets call at UM

Senior QB's play in practice gives him the nod over Turner, Portis, but all 3 expected to play

Football

August 19, 2008|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun reporter

COLLEGE PARK - Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen and offensive coordinator James Franklin went around and around over who should be the Terps' No. 1 quarterback, and yesterday morning, Friedgen announced that senior Jordan Steffy is the man.

What it came down to was statistical performance.

"I don't know if we [all] ever settled [on the choice]," Friedgen said. "We were kind of going back and forth. I was kind of listening to everybody. I gave all the coaches - even the defensive coaches - a chance to voice their opinions. ... I just kind of listened and then didn't sleep much tossing it over in my mind. But when I came in this morning, I was pretty solid with what I wanted to do."

Steffy has been the best quarterback in camp and will lead the Terps into their season opener Aug. 30 against Delaware.

"The biggest thing to me is how well Jordan has played," Friedgen said. "I think it's important that I evaluate what I see. I have credibility. And I have to have some credibility with my players, too, because they see it, also. If you don't reward people who practice well, I think you're in danger of losing the whole team. I'm not going to do that."

So the camp-long, three-way competition among Steffy and juniors Chris Turner and Josh Portis is over, but Friedgen said he foresees all three playing this season.

"I think Chris Turner will be [No.] 2," the coach said. "But I think we'll play Portis. I think he'll have a role, maybe as a tempo changer, and we'll kind of see where that goes and how well he does."

Steffy, 6 feet 1, 209 pounds, started the first five games last season before suffering a concussion that sidelined him for the rest of the year. He completed 70 of 104 passes (67.3 percent) for 686 yards, with two touchdowns and four interceptions. The Terps won three of those games. Turner, 6-4, 210 pounds, started the last eight games after Steffy was injured. He won three of them, including one against a top-10 Boston College team, and came into the preseason listed as the No. 1 quarterback after completing 63.5 percent of his passes for 1,958 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions last season.

But after the team's scrimmage Saturday evening, Turner said it had been made "very clear to me that it was an open competition."

Franklin, Maryland's offensive coordinator, said Turner and Portis were disappointed by the decision but added that he explained why it was made.

"They all saw the stats," Franklin said. "I went through it with both of them before I told them the decision. I think they should be disappointed. They should feel like they're the guy. But I said: 'When we leave this room, with our teammates, with the media, with our parents and with everybody else, we're a united front. We're going to support Jordan Steffy.' "

It was Turner's game performances that made Friedgen's decision so hard.

"Chris played well in games," Friedgen said. "That's his M.O. But we didn't win every game he played in. We need consistency. Based on not only fall practice, but I even went back to spring practices, and [Steffy] was by far and away ahead in all the statistics."

Portis, who like Turner is 6-4 and 210 pounds, transferred to Maryland from Florida near the end of his freshman season. He has yet to play a down for the Terps.

"I think we need to work three," Friedgen said. "I think they'll all end up playing, to be honest with you. I look at it as a strength. We're probably fortunate to have three quarterbacks that are talented kids. Now we have to get one quarterback that we can win the ACC with. If we have three of them, that's even better."

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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