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Steffy: "I Can't Put Into Words How Tough It Was"

Here is a little bit of the long interview I did with starting quarterback Jordan Steffy this week. The story should be on the Web soon, if not now. And it will be in Saturday’s print edition. Jordan was pretty candid. See for yourself:

Q: Tell me why James Franklin’s West Coast-version of the offense fits your style so well?

Steffy: When Franklin came, he said this offense is designed to throw short, precise passes and give the receiver the chance to run after they catch it. That fits me perfectly. Last year I had a lot of completions, but some of them were shorter. Being able to throw these short passes and giving the playmakers the chance to move the ball, really fits my style well.

Q: How satisfying for you is it, after all you have been through, particularly over the past year, to win back the starting job?

Steffy: It is satisfying, it really is, especially because I pride myself on enjoying competition. From a young age, I realized that in anything in life there is going to be competition. The biggest thing is not giving in and to continue to fight, whether the outcome is what you want it to be or not, just to be willing to stand back up and keep fighting, it is important to me. It does feel good for me, but obviously there are a lot of other things I want to accomplish throughout this year.

Q: When people talk about you, they talk about resiliency. How hard was it to stay positive over the past year?

Steffy: It was tough, it really was. Honestly speaking, I can’t put into words how tough it is. I was talking to my mother a while back, and I said, ‘At times, mom, this is so tough that I would never repeat my thoughts.’ It gets difficult and sometimes it is lonely, but I have been blessed to have a very religious family, a very close family, a girlfriend who is from back home but comes to the University of Maryland as well – and she has always been there for me. All that put together, sort of get through it. Also by putting things into perspective. Last night, Dr. [Lonise] Bias was here and talking about losing both of her sons. I sort of put football into perspective and it is something that I want to do well in and it is something I am going to work as hard as I can to do well in, but at the end of the day there are a lot of other things that are important in life. Keep that in the back of my head and keep pushing on.

Q: What was the low point for you?

Steffy: Obviously the Rutgers game, it was frustrating because they were a top 10 team and we were winning the game, and then the guy gets that hit. That was frustrating because I knew we could win that game. And then the process of losing my memory and not remembering things I thought I should know, all of that was very frustrating to me. I can’t put a specific point on the low point, but there have been highs and lows, and one thing that has been good is having a mentor, Darryl Daniel, he has been through college, he has been through the NFL. Having him as always being there to go back to and talk to has also been a big help.

Q: When were you going through those low points, how much did you rely on those mentors?

Steffy: Mentors and the big thing is God. To me, that was the thing, as well as my mother and girlfriend, which really got me through. At the same time, one thing that is good with myself is that I have been through low points in the past and the more you go through it, it gets to the point where giving up is harder than trying, you know what I’m saying? It would be harder for me to give up at something than it would be to keep trying and keep fighting.

Q: A lot of people may say the opposite, that it would be easier to give up…

Steffy: Exactly, but when you continuously fight and continuously fight, you get accustomed to do doing it. Then the roles switch and it becomes harder to give up than it is to keep pushing and keep trying.

Q: Those low points, from the Rutgers game and on, were they the lowest of your life, or just of your football career?

Steffy: It is tough to say. Actually, no, I can’t say they were the lowest of my life. My football career, definitely. I have been through difficult situations with my family, so I couldn’t say it’s the lowest of my life.

Q: The fact that you would lose memory, can you give me some examples of that?

Steffy: Just little things. I would see somebody [on campus] and I would know that I knew them, but I wouldn’t be able to remember their name. Things that that, which happened right after the concussion, were very frustrating to me. I would be wanting to go somewhere and I would forget how exactly to get there. Little things like that. Right after the concussion happened, it was very frustrating to me and scary at the time. After meeting with a bunch of doctors, we realized, sure, it is still a risk, but it is a calculated risk, and, to me, completing something that I started is more important than anything else. And to continue to fight until the end is what I stand for.

Q: You would forget how to get somewhere even locally, around campus?

Steffy: I would be walking out of class and forget where my next class is. It wouldn’t last forever, but for five or 10 seconds I’m sitting there like, Where am I trying to go? And then it would finally come back. Little things like that were very frustrating.

Q: That was soon after the Rutgers game, but did it get better?

Steffy: Yes. Three or four months afterward, things started to come back. It definitely did get better.

Q: When was the last time you had a memory lapse like that?

Steffy: I can’t honestly, it has been a while ago.

Q: Do you think coming back is a risk?

Steffy: Sure, it is a risk. I have had a couple concussions. At the same time, it is a calculated risk. It is something that I have said I want to do, and we’re going to go forward.

Q: Do you know how many concussions you have had?

Steffy: Honestly, no, I really don’t.

Q: And you said you told your mom that you would never repeat your thoughts in your toughest moments?

Steffy: Just things that I would never repeat, meaning times were tough but I would never come out and say it and express it to anyone. I would keep it to myself, because knowing that in a day or two I will feel better. To me, that is just how it has been my whole life. Things are tough now, but eventually the sun will shine. That is just how it is with me.

Q: By keeping those thoughts in your head, rather then expressing them, that makes a difference?

Steffy: Oh, yeah, definitely. I can deal with it, and I know I can deal with it. Expressing it to anyone else is not that important. As long as I know I can handle it and I’ll be fine, I will be okay.

Q: Was there a time, or perhaps more than once, when you thought you would never regain the starting job?

No. Because I never, ever doubted myself on anything, regardless of how slight my chances were or how much the odds were stacked against me. I truly believed that everything I devote myself to I can do well at. I never doubted myself. To me, it was more of a physical thing, can I do this. Would I mentally be able to comprehend everything that is necessary in order to be quarterback. With a lot of prayers, everything is fine.

Q: Was there anger, because that was an illegal hit, according to the ACC?

Steffy: Yeah, it was frustrating because the next week the guy gets kicked out of the game for them. Yeah, it was frustrating, but again one thing I believe in is that God has a plan for me and the story is already written and the ending he already knows, and I am just sort of going through it. That is one thing I always look back to and realize, sure, it is frustrating at times. All you can do is keep that thinking.

Q: You talked about a calculated risk, did you ever consider leaving football?

Steffy: I went to the doctors and spoke with a couple doctors. It was not about leaving football. It was about, can I do this, is it smart for me to do this anymore. And then I realized that, sure, there are some risks, they are a lot smaller than they were and I decided to go on with it.

Q: Did they all tell you the same thing?

Steffy: Pretty much. Anytime you have a head injury, there is going to be a risk and you are going to be a little succesptible . The longer the time is between contact the better. That happened in October, the end of September last year, so now it’s almost a year later and the chances are a lot slimmer that something like that will happen again.

Q: How many doctors did you see?

Steffy: Three or four

Q: Outside the area?

Steffy: No.

Q: When Franklin told you, in that meeting, early on that Monday morning, that you were the starter, what went through you?

Steffy: Okay, we’re over this stumbling block. Let’s move on and get some wins. I was happy about it but far from content because of what I want to accomplish this season. We have a lot of talented guys on this team, I truly believe that. That was good, I was glad that happened. But I was ready to move forward and win some football games.

Q: How big of a blessing was it for you when Franklin returned?

Steffy: It was huge. The offense that he brought, the relationship that we had in the past. Those are all things that obviously worked into my favor, that God sort of made happen.

Q: Almost that it came full circle?

Steffy: Right

Q: Did you think that?

Steffy: I didn’t think that when they said he was coming back, but it worked out.

Q: How close were you two?

Steffy: We still talked when he was at Kansas State. He would shoot me an email, a text. We never lost contact.

By Eric Prisbell  |  August 29, 2008; 4:40 PM ET
Categories:  Football  | Tags: Darryl Daniel, James Franklin, Jordan Steffy  
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Next: Opener to be Simulcast on ESPN


Thanks for this extensive content. I wish Steffy the best of luck. It's easy to forget when we're calling for this college QB to be replaced by that college QB that both young men are people, not just uniform-wearing machines.

Posted by: Lindemann | August 29, 2008 6:40 PM | Report abuse

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