- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2006

Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen remembered this week how quarterback Jordan Steffy hoped he could earn an internship with Baltimore-based Under Armour last summer.

It didn’t happen — at least not immediately.

“They shot a commercial here [last summer] and he happened to be hanging around [CEO] Kevin [Plank],” Friedgen said. “And the next thing I know, he’ll definitely have an internship next year.”

That wait could wind up having parallels with Steffy’s football career with the Terrapins. Once a highly touted recruit, he redshirted last year and then turned in a two-turnover performance in Maryland’s season opener against William & Mary.

As the Terps (2-1) prepare to play host to Florida International (0-3) in their nonconference finale tomorrow at Byrd Stadium, Steffy’s eventual second chance as a sophomore has yet to arrive.

Not that he’s dwelling on the first.

“I don’t look it as wiping something [away],” Steffy said. “I try not to look back on past performances, whether it was good or bad. The next time I step on the field I want to do the best that I can. If you look to the past and compare performances, I don’t think that’s something you really want to get into as a quarterback.”

Consider it part of Steffy’s maturation, a process accelerated by nearly 21 months out of the spotlight.

He attempted 32 passes as a true freshman before a concussion in the season’s penultimate game ended his year.

Friedgen’s decision to redshirt Steffy last fall led to an entirely different season. He spent the year learning the offense rather than absorbing it on the fly, even though there was a possibility he could play if Sam Hollenbach and Joel Statham were injured.

There are still aspects of the offense Steffy struggles with. Although he feels comfortable with most of the Terps’ passing game, he admits he works hard to grasp all of the checks he must make while setting running plays. Yet he’s still a far more advanced player than he was two years ago.

“If you look at Coach Friedgen, especially here, no quarterback has really had success before his third, fourth year in this offense,” Steffy said. “I just want to know when I step on the field I’m as prepared as I could be. Last year, honestly speaking, would I have been this prepared? No. And this year, will I be as prepared as I possibly will be ever? Probably not. But it’s a big step from last year.”

Friedgen said in the month before the season opener it was important for the Terps to create a reserve of experience at each position, including quarterback. Steffy pleaded with Friedgen for an opportunity to play meaningful snaps in relief of Hollenbach against William & Mary after a strong camp.

It didn’t go well. Steffy failed to complete any of his five passes with an interception and a fumble, and a tight game with Middle Tennessee coupled with last week’s loss at West Virginia didn’t afford him an opportunity to play since.

“It was a hump he had to get over,” sophomore wideout Isaiah Williams said. “When I saw the game I went and told him ‘I know that’s not you. I know that wasn’t your performance, but for whatever reason, you didn’t have your best game. But if we had to play you tomorrow, I’m sure you’d be up to the task and I’m sure you’d do great.’”

Friedgen often points to Steffy’s progress as an example of a player growing up, a process the veteran coach savors. He also remains willing to play Steffy in the right situation, perhaps even if a game’s outcome is in question.

Any circumstance would suit Steffy, who is certain the rust he displayed earlier this month won’t be a factor whenever he receives another chance.

“I’ll never question myself or my ability,” Steffy said. “I just feel like once I get out there again and get into a little rhythm, things will be fine.”

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