The Washington Times - August 23, 2008, 07:52PM

Oh, that wacky Ralph Friedgen, saying at the start of camp he didn’t have a scholarship available.

Well, he gave one to nose tackle Bemi Otulaja on Friday. So not only did he have one, he gave it to the right guy.

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The 6-foot, 285-pounder who has dealt with a bum ankle throughout camp was called into Ralph’s office for a brief conversation – “not even three sentences,” Otulaja said.

Ralph first called up athletic trainer Wes Robinson, who said Otulaja kept pushing through camp even though the ankle was hurting. Then Friedgen told him he was on scholarship, a spot that opened up right before camp when Evan Eastburn transferred to Colorado.

“Well thank you very much, I appreciate that,” Otulaja replied. “He was like ‘Don’t disappoint me.’”

From an outside perspective, it might have been more disappointing if Otulaja didn’t get the scholarship in the first place. Ask any player on the Terrapins’ roster who might be the best bet to come out of nowhere and be especially effective this year, and Bemi’s name always pops up.

Plus, he is expected to start next week’s season opener at Delaware. Presumably, if you have 85 scholarships, the 22 guys who are starting shouldn’t be worrying about paying for tuition and housing.

Otulaja wasn’t on scholarship at Division I-AA Marist in 2004 and 2005, and paid his own way as an out-of-state student at Maryland the last two years. It doesn’t take much to do the math that this is more than just some recognition as a scholarship player – it’s a much-treasured economic break, as well.

“It still hasn’t hit me yet,” Otulaja said. “Until I see the account disappear, it still hasn’t hit me.”

Patrick Stevens