- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Don’t feel bad for Jordan Steffy. After all, he certainly doesn’t.

Not even after his well-chronicled arrival as the Maryland football program’s next great thing four years ago eventually gave way to a redshirt year, another season on the bench and finally a five-game fling as a starter cut short by a concussion.

It would be easy to make this a maudlin tale of woe. But Steffy, who is engaged in yet another camp battle for the Terrapins’ starting quarterback job, will have none of it after coming back for his fifth season.

“Listen, I’ve been around a lot of people, and I’ve seen a lot of people in a lot worse conditions and a lot worse situations than I’m in,” Steffy said. “I’m on full scholarship, having the time of my life, around a lot of great guys and things like that. The media likes to make things sound a little worse than things are. I’ve had a blast. I really have.”

Coach Ralph Friedgen said offensive coordinator James Franklin informed him Steffy and incumbent Chris Turner “are about even” entering the second week of camp. Friedgen would like to decide his starter for the Aug. 30 opener against Delaware by the end of the week, if not sooner.

That leaves Steffy in a solid situation. It is not the same as a year ago, when the competition was nominal and Steffy appeared a sure bet to start when camp commenced.

His time as a starter included an interception on the goal line at Wake Forest that helped swing what appeared to be a sure victory into an overtime loss, as well as a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit late in the first half at Rutgers a week later.

“He’s a kid who I truly love, just knowing the adversity he faces,” Friedgen said. “I know the fans are kind of down on him right now, but he still fights back and gives you everything he has on every play. He went through a very tough thing last year. The interception at Wake Forest, that could have happened to anybody. Then to get knocked out of a game he was playing pretty good in.”

It was the last extended playing time for Steffy, who threw a combined four passes in the final two regular-season games. If anything gave Steffy reason not to return for a final season, it was the concussion. It was his fifth since high school, and he discussed the ramifications of playing again at length with team physician Yvette Rooks.

When last season ended, the memory loss associated with the latest concussion still bothered Steffy. But he wanted one more chance, even as other aspects of his life continued to blossom.

He graduated in May, calling Friedgen shortly after he learned he passed a biomechanics exam that ensured he would earn his degree. Steffy also conducted his second annual golf outing for his Children Deserve a Chance Foundation, raising nearly $50,000.

This fall, he will work toward a graduate degree in real estate development, something he hopes will help him as his foundation constructs a developmental center in Lancaster, Pa.

“It really comes down to being a college athlete. You really can’t just put everything into football,” said center Edwin Williams, who was part of Steffy’s recruiting class. “You are a student-athlete. Your identity is not just as a football player, and I think Jordan does a great job of showing what he can do off the field as well.”

Of course, he would like to display his on-field wares as well.

Friedgen frequently praises Steffy’s preparation for practice and believes the senior is “maybe one of the best team players I’ve ever been around.”

That, combined with several setbacks, could make Steffy something of a tragic figure. But Steffy coolly dismisses the difficulties he has faced, preferring instead to dwell on the optimism of a new season that will double as his final one at Maryland.

“This season more than anything else is just about completing this chapter of my life,” Steffy said. “Everyone’s going to face tough times, and to be able to stick things out to the end and fight till the end is really what I stand for and really how I was raised. … This is something that I’ve started, and I’m going to finish it.”

Notes - Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Joe Faiella has a partially torn left Achilles tendon and is out for at least three weeks. …

Freshman Davin Meggett passed sophomore Morgan Green as the backup tailback behind Da’Rel Scott. Green is dealing with a quadriceps injury.

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