Tuesday, July 27, 2004

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Joel Statham will enter camp as Maryland’s No.1 quarterback, but coach Ralph Friedgen yesterday wouldn’t rule out freshman Jordan Steffy or sophomore Sam Hollenbach.

Friedgen said Statham is the probable starter against Northern Illinois on Sept.4 over Hollenbach. A nervous early effort in Maryland’s Red-White spring game nearly cost Statham, but he returned in the second half to throw two touchdowns. Now, Friedgen expects the sophomore to remain ahead when practice begins Aug.11.

“If everything stays the status quo and Joel looks like he can do it, we’ll probably start the year with him and see how he does unless Sam has just made tremendous progress,” Friedgen said at the ACC’s annual preseason meeting with coaches and reporters. “Joel has matured but not to the extent I wanted.”

Steffy has impressed Friedgen with his playbook knowledge after arriving earlier this month for the summer school program. However, Friedgen has yet to see the highly touted prep star on the field. At times, Friedgen seemed willing to give Steffy a chance if Statham falters.

“He seems like he’s really worked at it,” Friedgen said. “Steffy surprised me by what he knew. [However], I can’t throw him in if he’s not ready.”

Senior cornerback Domonique Foxworth said starting a freshman quarterback isn’t a long shot.

“It’s been done — Georgia Tech did it last year,” Foxworth said. “Our scheme is pretty complicated, so it would take a lot of film study and off the field work to get ready, but it’s not [impossible].”

Friedgen will increase conditioning early in the 29 summer practices before tapering off in the final workouts to avoid injuries that hampered the Terps last year. The schemes also may be simplified given the team’s increased youth. Maryland has just 11 starters returning.

“We have to go back and press hard about not beating yourself with penalties and turnovers,” Friedgen said. “We have to get back to that low percentage of errors.”

Notes — Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer declined comment on whether suspended quarterback Marcus Vick will seek a transfer or be reinstated after two offseason legal problems. Beamer would say only that Vick was “suspended indefinitely.” … Beamer said more than 45,000 tickets have been sold to Hokies fans for the Aug.28 opener against Southern Cal at FedEx Field. The game is expected to be a sellout.

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