Whether that three-man competition is over - or whether all three will remain on the roster in coming weeks - remains unknown.
Steffy beat out incumbent Chris Turner and junior Josh Portis to earn the nod for the Aug. 30 opener against Delaware. Both Friedgen and offensive coordinator James Franklin emphasized the need to find some use for the shifty Portis.
That leaves Turner, who started the final eight games last season, as the Terrapins’ No. 2 quarterback - for now.
Turner was not made available to the media just after Friedgen’s announcement, but his father expressed surprise at the decision when reached by telephone yesterday afternoon.
“We are shellshocked,” John Turner said. “We’ll probably talk about some things tonight, but right now we’re shellshocked.”
John Turner declined to comment further on whether his son would consider transferring from the school he led to a pair of victories over top-10 opponents last fall. Friedgen was not immediately available for comment on the possibility of Chris Turner leaving the program.
Either way, it will be Steffy’s team - at least initially, anyway. The fifth-year senior impressed Friedgen and Franklin with his steadiness, and both said he led nearly every statistic the coaches recorded during practices throughout camp.
Franklin canvassed several veterans over the weekend, and Friedgen said about two-thirds of them voiced support for Steffy. Friedgen also said it was important for his own credibility to base the decision on practice performance.
“If you don’t reward kids for practicing well, then I don’t know what you can base your decision on,” Friedgen said.
It is another shot for Steffy, who won the job in camp last year but was sidelined with a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit just before halftime at Rutgers. The Terps split Steffy’s first four games, and his most memorable play was probably an interception returned for a touchdown at Wake Forest that turned that game around for the Demon Deacons.
Turner stepped in for Steffy and rallied Maryland to a win at Rutgers. He later engineered an upset of Boston College. But Friedgen was not always pleased with his consistency, a refrain he continued to echo this month.
“I know I’m going to be second-guessed on it,” said Friedgen, who believes all three will play this year. “That’s people’s prerogative, but I would hope they would get behind this kid and give him all of the support they can like I am. I think he’s worked very hard, as all three of them have. That’s what made it a very hard decision.”
While the Steffy-Turner battle probably isn’t over unless Turner departs, Portis was assured some sort of role this season. Portis sat out 2006 because of his transfer from Florida, then served a suspension for cheating on a quiz last year.
Despite the inactivity, Portis retains the shiftiness that made him such an alluring addition more than two years ago.