Maryland's future at quarterback

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So today’s news about Maryland – the Terrapins‘ decision to release quarterback Tyler Bass from his scholarship after the incoming freshman understandably balked at grayshirting and not arriving on campus until 2009 – doesn’t seem all that huge.

And for 2008, it’s not. Maryland should make do this fall with Chris Turner and Jordan Steffy and Josh Portis. Emphasis on should.

But Steffy will be gone after this year, Portis and Turner by the time 2010 rolls around. And when it does, it looks like the Terps will be very short on quarterbacks with significant time in the program.

Bass (and the long gone Jeremy Ricker) could have filled a void that it appears only Jamarr Robinson will try to. And that’s not particularly encouraging for the longer term.

Here’s a look at Maryland’s top four quarterbacks entering camp throughout Ralph Friedgen’s tenure (and anticipated through 2010), with class/career starts included. In the case of 2004, it covers how things looked entering the season.

 

YearStarterNo. 2No. 3No. 4
2001Shaun Hill (Sr./3)Latrez Harrison (R-So./2)Chris Kelley (R-Fr./0)Brian Ramey (Fr./0)
2002Scott McBrien (Jr./0)Orlando Evans (R-Jr./0)Hunter Cross (R-Jr./0)Sam Hollenbach (Fr./0)
2003Scott McBrien (Sr./14)Orlando Evans (R-Sr./0)Joel Statham (R-Fr./0)Sam Hollenbach (R-Fr./0)
2004Joel Statham (R-So./0)Jordan Steffy (Fr./0)Ryan Mitch (R-Fr./0)Sam Hollenbach (R-So./0)
2005Sam Hollenbach (R-Jr./1)Joel Statham (R-Jr./10)Jordan Steffy (So./0)Chris Turner (Fr./0)
2006Sam Hollenbach (R-Sr./11)Jordan Steffy (R-So./0)Bobby Sheahin (R-So./0)Chris Turner (R-Fr./0)
2007Jordan Steffy (R-Jr./0)Josh Portis (R-So./0)Chris Turner (R-So./0)Bobby Sheahin (R-Jr./0)
2008Chris Turner (R-Jr./8)Jordan Steffy (R-Sr./5)Josh Portis (R-Jr./0)Jamarr Robinson (R-Fr./0)
2009Chris Turner (R-Sr.)Josh Portis (R-Sr.)Jamarr Robinson (R-So.)C.J. Brown (Fr.)/Danny O’Brien (Fr.)
2010Jamarr Robinson (R-Jr.)C.J. Brown (R-Fr./So.)Danny O’Brien (R-Fr./So??????

I have no clue how Brown and O’Brien, who have committed to Maryland, will work out; they’re listed in alphabetical order for the purposes of this chart.

Maryland, though, has gone into two seasons under Friedgen without a quarterback who had taken a college snap. After a bumpy start, things worked out well in 2002 with McBrien. After a reasonably solid start in 2004, the wheels fell off the wagon with Statham.

Even in those instances (for both good and ill), Friedgen had multiple third-year players to work with. The good thing about such players is they should have a good understanding of whatever scheme their team is trying to run. The bad thing about them is that after half a season, you’ll really know if you’re in good shape or up a creek in the long term. That was the case with Statham, but at least Friedgen knew.

It might not necessarily be true of a quarterback who hasn’t had a chance to get a grasp of an offense.

All of this leads to the possibility that the predictability that has defined Maryland’s recent quarterback competitions could be out the door when Turner and Portis presumably leave after 2009.

A Maryland fan on the eve of camp in 2005 probably could have guessed Steffy would be in the mix in 2008, assuming he didn’t have to burn off his anticipated redshirt that fall.

In August 2006, many Maryland fans assumed Portis would be on his way to a Heisman Trophy in 2008, with Steffy capably serving as his caddy.

In August 2007, everyone could see the Steffy-Portis-Turner (Or was it Steffy-Turner-Portis? Or Turner-Steffy-Portis?) battle renewing a year later.

There are no such luxuries today looking ahead to 2010. Robinson has never played a down. Bass isn’t coming. Brown and O’Brien can’t even sign until February.

Terps fans have grown accustomed to fated (if sometimes fatalistic) outlook on their quarterbacks. In the not-too-distant future, that will change considerably.

Patrick Stevens

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