Here is a heart-warming story of a prominent bench-warming senior making his first touchdown and carry for the Maryland Terrapins. Andrew Stefanelli is this underdog hero, who can keep his chin up and finish his college career with a taste of gridiron glory. Before the Terps’ regular season finale against Rutgers, Stefanelli was informed that he’d be placed into the game under one condition: if they got the ball close to the goal line. Only if that came true would this walk-on fullback be given his chance to shine.
And luckily, Stefanelli did exactly that.
After Stefanelli made his career-redeeming (and career-defining) touchdown, his face was full of joy. It must have been like a dream for this happy fullback. “He was all smiles,” said sophomore running back Ty Johnson. “He came to the sideline just smiling. It was a great thing to see.”
His teammates crowded the unlikely hero after the touchdown. He was an unfamiliar sight on the football field, as many didn’t know he had a position on the team. Andrew Stefanelli went from the bench to the limelight in epic fashion. But his recollection of this moment is a bit hazy. “I kind of just blacked out. I was running back to the sideline just like, ‘I don’t know what even happened,” he said. “The play seemed like it was two hours long. I felt like I couldn’t get up. It was weird. I didn’t know what to do.”
Andrew Stefanelli transferred to the Maryland Terps after playing one season for the Temple Owls in 2012. But his first year for the Terps spelled failure, as he had two blowouts and wouldn’t play again until Mike Locksley took over as interim head coach. And it was very difficult for this young player having to constantly look on from the sidelines. “It’s kind of hard to not be able to go out there and spill my guts like the rest of my teammates can,” he said. “So that’s been the hardest part, that I can’t put it all out there for my teammates, for my boys. But I’ve been able to motivate them while I’m on the sidelines, be energetic, and not pull the team down.”
As new management came into the Terps, Stefanelli’s role shifted. The new offensive coordinator Walt Bell saw no use in another fullback for the Terps, but the new coaching staff would think otherwise. “They told me the role would be small, but I’d have a role,” Stefanelli said. “And that was pretty much it. I knew he wasn’t lying to me.”
Stefanelli helped during team practice and waited for his opportunity. His hard work and persistence would finally pay off on the team’s senior day. His time on the football field may be over, but at least he’ll leave college knowing that he contributed to his team and actually made a touchdown to end his time with the Terps. “Our offensive coordinator wanted me to have something special to remember,” Stefanelli said. “It was a great opportunity to do it my senior year, senior day. It’s something that I’ll never forget.”