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Remember this guarantee from coach Ralph Friedgen? It came after starting quarterback Jordan Steffy was awaiting X-rays on his right thumb following Maryland's season-opening victory over Delaware.

"I can tell you this, regardless of who plays this week or next week or whatever, Jordan will come in and win the game for us before the season's over. I promise you that," Friedgen said at the time.

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Well, it turns out Fridge hasn't forgotten that pledge. He reminded reporters yesterday that "I've said all along" that Steffy would return from what turned out to be a fracture. Then Fridge said: "It wouldn't surprise me if this [the Dec. 30 Humanitarian Bowl] is the one."

I asked the coach if he considers Steffy to be the No. 2 quarterback these days behind Chris Turner. "Probably," he said.

Steffy said he'd be happy to play in what will be his last game for the Terps. He said he won't be able to grip the football the same as he once did -- at least not until until he has surgery following the season. But he can still throw.

Steffy, a graduate student, said he'll appear at halftime of the Sugar Bowl to receive an award from Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association for his off-the-field charity work.

Friedgen isn't shy about his affection for Steffy. "I love the kid," the coach said.

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