- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Jordan Steffy sat in the middle of the Maryland football locker room for an hour, grinning as he faced questions, cameras and some playful teasing from defensive tackle and resident humorist Dre Moore.

It was ordinary stuff a starting quarterback must endure, and Steffy handled it with aplomb. Of course, there’s plenty more ahead for the junior with camp under way.

“I think he’s ready for this challenge,” coach Ralph Friedgen said yesterday before the Terrapins’ first fall practice. “I’ve been very impressed with him in that light. He seems very at peace with himself. He doesn’t seem uptight about the whole situation.”

The situation, of course, is Maryland’s perhaps nominal quarterback competition. Steffy, who has taken only 14 snaps over the last two seasons, enters the month atop the depth chart. Florida transfer Josh Portis and sophomore Chris Turner are behind him.

Steffy’s position remains unchanged from the last eight months. Even before the team’s Champs Sports Bowl victory in December, Friedgen said Steffy would begin in the lead because of his familiarity with the system.

Spring practice and summer workouts did not dent his position, and less than four weeks before the Sept. 1 opener against Villanova, Steffy anticipates taking the most snaps in practice.

“It’s focusing on being successful in the first game as a team and focusing on beating Villanova, and it is what I’m going to focus on and what I’m going to worry about in practices,” Steffy said. “Everything else will take care of itself.”

Time is Steffy’s ally because of his three years in Maryland’s system, but it figures to help in other ways this month. Friedgen would prefer not to dawdle deciding a starter, meaning there will be only so many chances for Portis or Turner to make a move.

“I’m anxious to see how much improvement has been made,” Friedgen said. “It’ll be at least a week, maybe a little bit more, but we have to start focusing in on who is the No. 1 guy. … It’s hard enough to get one guy ready as opposed to three. You have to get three, but the guy who has to take the majority of the snaps has to take the majority of the [practice] reps.”

Friedgen promised yesterday to try to create game-like situations in practice, yanking coaches off the field to place the quarterbacks in a more authentic environment. This also will give Friedgen a better chance to evaluate his quarterbacks’ choices.

That likely is the best time for Portis, whose athleticism has impressed teammates since his transfer after the 2005 season, to make a sustained push for the job.

“Both of us can make it harder for [Friedgen], and both of us can make it easier for him,” Portis said. “It goes both ways. I feel that just go out there and do what you do and you don’t have to worry about what his decision is.”

The question will dominate discussion about the team for the next few weeks, but whoever wins the job will have the luxury of a surplus of experience at running back and wide receiver. Those veterans, in turn, are certain Friedgen will make the right call as the Terps attempt to surpass last year’s 9-4 record.

“They’re all great QBs,” junior receiver Danny Oquendo said. “Portis is a little better at running, Steffy has the experience and [Turner] is as accurate as they come. Whoever they pick for the job, I’ll have all my confidence in.”

Notes — Redshirt freshman Alex Wujciak has moved to the Terps’ defensive end/linebacker hybrid position. Junior Chase Bullock is listed as the starter at middle linebacker, Wujciak’s old position. …

Friedgen said tight end Devonte Campbell, who signed with the Terps in February, will attend Hargrave Military Academy this year.

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