The Washington Times - July 23, 2008, 04:31PM

Yes, there is total awareness here the Josh Portis Mafia on Maryland’s fan message boards still exists out there in cyberspace. It’s sort of like the loyal viewers of The X-Files – gone away for a while, but not really fully disbanded.

And then, they’re back, in all of their glory.

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So while Portis will start camp at No. 3 on Maryland’s depth chart at quarterback, he is very much on the minds of many fans.

And guess what? Ralph Friedgen’s been thinking about what he could get out of the shifty Portis for some time, too.

Trouble is, it’s awful hard to get a gauge on how effective he can be while wearing a noncontact jersey. So heading into Portis’ third year in the program, Friedgen still doesn’t exactly know what he has in his possession.

“I did approach him in the spring about having him live in the scrimmages because the one thing we don’t get to evaluate in the spring is [making something of a broken play],” Friedgen said earlier this week. “We blow the whistle when someone comes free or a play breaks down, and that could be the strongest part of his game.”

Now comes the fun part – and it required no prodding. Just how did Portis respond to Friedgen’s request in the spring?

“Of course, I don’t want him to get hurt,” Friedgen said. “I told him to go talk it over with his mother and they came back and didn’t want to do that. So then he gets in the scrimmage and wants to do it. I said ‘No, no. We’re going to make this call ahead of time. This is not going to be an emotional thing. I’m not having your mother coming back saying you got him hurt.’”

The good thing for Friedgen is that he’ll have a chance to find out in a game in another six weeks or so. You can bet Maryland will explore some sort of separate package for Portis if he does not earn the starting quarterback job, simply because there are some things he can do that neither Chris Turner nor Jordan Steffy could possibly be expected to replicate.

“I would think we can now see what this guy’s going to do,” Friedgen said. “He can make a good play out of a bad play. That’s a pretty nice facet to have in your offense.”

 – Patrick Stevens