COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -During all those games he watched from the bench, Jordan Steffy's confidence never wavered. He kept working hard in practice, never complaining about his lack of playing time and always believing he would one day be Maryland's starting quarterback.
His faith has been rewarded. Steffy guided the first-team offense all summer, and will receive his first college start Saturday in the Terrapins' opener against Villanova.
``It's going to be emotional for me because it's been four years since I've started a game,'' Steffy said Tuesday. ``But at the same time, it's no different than in practice.''
Steffy was not assured of getting the starting job this year, either. But he prevailed over Josh Portis and Chris Turner in a duel that lasted until the final practice of preseason camp.
``I think there's experience, and the time I've been here. Knowing the offense, things like that gave me a bit of an advantage,'' said Steffy, the only one of the three quarterbacks to have thrown a pass in Maryland uniform.
Back when Steffy languished on the bench, no one would have blamed him if he quit the team, or at least quit trying.
He never considered it.
``I never question God's timing. I know God has a plan for every one of us. So I never really questioned that,'' he said. ``Everything happens for a reason. I just continued to hang in there, and now we're at this point.''
Along the way, Steffy earned the respect of his teammates and coach Ralph Friedgen.
``He's never strayed from the course,'' Friedgen said. ``I see this in kids all the time: When things don't go well, they look to do something else. He hasn't done that. He's worked very hard.
``I'm really hoping he's successful because the way he has prepared and the way he has fought through this adversity,'' Friedgen added. ``And I really have a lot of confidence that he will.''
Steffy has thrown only 37 passes at Maryland, completing 12 with two interceptions and no touchdowns. Those numbers aren't impressive, but his work ethic and leadership have won over those who matter most.
``He's earned my trust and earned my confidence,'' linebacker Erin Henderson said. ``He understands that we don't need him to make all kinds of plays and do all kinds of things. Just manage the game. He has a lot of playmakers around him.''
The Terrapins return their two leading rushers from last year, Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball, and have their top four receivers back. So it's not as if Steffy has to carry the entire offense on his 6-foot-1 frame.
``I know that we have playmakers at receiver. I know our running backs are going to make things a lot easier for me,'' he said. ``I don't have to go out and win every game. I don't have to go out and throw a touchdown every pass. I understand that. So, for me the biggest thing is directing everything and making sure I do the little things.''
Friedgen said Portis could see some playing time, but that Steffy should not be threatened because the starting job is his. Finally.
Now, instead of watch from the sideline, Steffy gets to perform on the field.
``That's the next step. He has to be able to go out, relax and make plays like he has been in practice,'' Friedgen said. ``If I can get him to play like he has in practice, we're going to be fine.
``I think he wants to do well so badly, that sometimes he tightens up,'' the coach said. ``It hasn't really been a whole lot different from the quarterbacks we've had here in the past. You've just got to get over it.''

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