Josh Portis (yes, related to Clinton) came to Maryland after transferring from Florida where he got stuck behind some guy named "Tebow" on the depth charts. At the time, Terps fans were still recovering from the Joel Statham era, were waiting to see if this Jordan Steffy kid woudl ever pan out, and were ecstatic that Portis would choose Maryland. After all, this had been one of the most sought after high school QB recruits in the country. He put up ridiculous passing numbers at his southern California high school and obviously, the Gators don't just recruit anybody to play QB. There were some rumblings that he (and his mother) were slightly... ehh... eccentric to say the least, but Friedgen was assured that he could keep this under control and that Portis would turn into a huge contributor to the Terps should Jordan Steffy falter.
Josh sat out the 2006 season due to the oNCAA transfer rules. He became eligible to play in the 2007 season. It seemed obvious that Josh would start as the backup to Jordan Steffy but given how erratic Steffy seemed, Terp fans were in essence counting down the days until Portis would be under center. Then, he cheated. He cheated on what has been reported as a pop quiz. And he was suspended for the 2007 season. And, inevitably, in a game at Rutgers during that 2007 season, Jordan Steffy went down with an injury. The job would have gone to Portis. Instead, it went to some curly-haired Napoleon Dynamite-looking kid who had almost transferred out of the school and gone back home to California. Chris Turner took the reins for the rest of the season and led the Terps to a semi-respectable bowl game.
2008 season comes along with an open QB competition. Under Armour invests hundreds of thousands of dollars in manufacturing Josh Portis jerseys, as he was one of the three featured Terp players for whom Under Armour manufactured and sold replica jerseys. Now, finally, Terp fans can see the promise of Josh Portis. Well, spring ball comes, and at the end, no QB has separated himself. Summer practice comes, and at the end, the depth chart is released. Jordan Steffy, #1. Chris Turner, #2. Josh Portis, distant #3. The heralded transfer to save the program couldn't beat out even one of his competitors and advance up the depth chart.
During the 2008 season, Steffy injures himself again and Chris Turner again takes over, never to cede the position, aside from a few snaps here and there where the offensive coaches, due to some devotion to Portis, and due to his obvious athletic gifts, brought him in an option package. Portis. Portis' final numbers for 2008... 1 completion for 4 yards on 3 passing attempts, 31 rushes for 186 yards and a touchdown.
Josh Portis has been on the field for 34 snaps of the ball during his time at Maryland. He received more snaps of the ball during his freshman season at Florida (40 snaps) in 2005 than he did in 2008.
Should he transfer?
There has been some gossip on the Internets that Portis is thinking of transferring. Most people assume it is to a 1-AA (FCS) school, so that he does not have to waste another year sitting out as per NCAA regulations. However, it's time that the question is asked - does Josh Portis have the tools to be a successful NCAA QB at either the BCS or FCS level? He can wing the ball a long ways down the field. However, as most Terp fans have seen, he does this with little to no accuracy. He's an athletic specimen... strong, tall for a QB (6'4"), and speedy. However, mobile QBs still need to be able to throw the ball when necessary. Most troublesome appears to be his decision making. I'll say it here - Josh Portis may not be smart enough to play QB at any level aside from high school. By "smart," I mean he may not have the capabilities to make the decisions at the speed that they need to be made when you've got a college-type defense closing in on you. That said...
Should he change positions?
Many unsuccessful college QBs have either become WRs, or, more frequently, have gone into the defensive secondary. This is definitely an option for Portis should he choose to stay at Maryland, where our secondary is going to be absolutely WEAK next year without Kevin Barnes. I see Portis with the athletic skills necessary to play cornerback - certainly not safety. However, he'd only have one year of eligibility left to learn the position, prove himself, and make enough of an impact so he can make it to the next level. Most QBs make this switch earlier in thier collegiate careers.
Should the Maryland coaches be blamed?
As much as I'd like to blame the coaches for other things that have gone to hell with this Terps team, the answer is a resounding "NO." If Portis hadn't cheated, and he'd been able to play with the team in 2007, maybe he would've developed. And you can't teach the ability to a QB to muster a basic mastery of an offense. They tried to involve Portis this year in those option packages early in the season, and it was just a distraction that all too often resulted in loss of yardage.
What is Portis' next step?
I don't know. Do you?
December 14, 2008