- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Another year, another three-way race at quarterback for the Maryland football team.

And another season opener to be started by Jordan Steffy.

Coach Ralph Friedgen named the fifth-year senior the Terrapins‘ starter for the Aug. 30 opener against Delaware, emphasizing Steffy’s consistency throughout camp and even as far back as spring practice as the basis for his decision.

“When you look at all the data, Jordan Steffy’s earned the spot,” Friedgen said.

Chris Turner, who started the final eight games of last season, will be the No. 2 quarterback. Junior Josh Portis is the third-stringer, but Maryland will use him in specific packages throughout the season.

The decision makes Steffy the opening game starter for the second straight year. Steffy had the job for a month last season, losing it when he was knocked out of a game at Rutgers on concussion resulting from a helmet-to-helmet hit.

“I feel like I’m progressing each year and each year and I’m ready to take the next step,” Steffy said.

Turner stepped in and rallied the Terps to a victory in that game, and later helped engineer an upset of Boston College in November. Maryland was 2-2 in the four games Steffy completed early in the season, and 4-5 with Turner.

Turner was unavailable for comment after Monday morning’s practice.

Portis, meanwhile, appears set to finally get on the field. He sat out the 2006 season after transferring from Florida, then served an academic suspension last year for cheating on a quiz.

“He will play,” offensive coordinator James Franklin said of Portis. “He’s one of the most freakish athletes I’ve ever been around at any level. He will play.”

The three-way race remained a toss-up throughout camp, though Franklin sensed Steffy starting to take over late last week. But a mediocre outing in Saturday’s scrimmage led to another re-evaluation over the weekend.

Franklin, in his first year back at Maryland, talked with several players and assistant coaches to get a sense of who they believed should be the starter.

Friedgen said about two-thirds of the players polled gave the nod to Steffy, further cementing his belief Steffy earned the gig in practice.

“I have a credibility thing,” Friedgen said. “I evaluate what I see. I have to have some credibility with my players. They see it also. If you don’t, you’re in danger of losing the whole team.”

Realistically, this is far from the last word on the topic this season. The presence of Portis means there will be at least two variables in play under center each game, and Turner appears likely to play if Steffy stumbles at any point.

Friedgen re-iterated he believes all three quarterbacks will play at some point this season, meaning the decision is probably far from final.

“The most important thing is the one quarterback you have on the field,” Franklin said. “I don’t know if any other team has three like we do. Other teams might have one guy that is better statistically or with returning experience, but we have three guys we feel pretty good about. That doesn’t mean anything if the one on the field isn’t getting the job done.”

For now, the Terps hope Steffy is the one who can do just that.