The Washington Times - December 10, 2008, 09:35PM

It was good to see Richard Taylor heading into practice just as the assembled media were leaving the field today.

Turns out, the fifth-year senior might be back next year.

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Coach Ralph Friedgen said Taylor plans to appeal for a medical hardship season. Taylor missed all of last year recovering from an ACL tear, then suffered another torn ACL in this year’s third game.

“Originally, they were telling me he wouldn’t be ready until October, so I was kind of frowning on him coming back,” Friedgen said. “Today, Dr. [Craig] Bennett told me he’s way ahead of schedule. He thinks he has a chance to be ready for camp. If he’s ready for camp, I told [athletic trainer] Wes [Robinson] to go ahead and file the appeal.”

There are obviously scholarship numbers to crunch there. But with Kevin Barnes leaving and Maryland really not developing its cornerback depth in games this season, Taylor could be a useful piece next fall – if his appeal is accepted and he manages to stay healthy. Neither is a guarantee.

The news on safety Dominique Herald was less welcome. Not that he won’t get a medical redshirt. Frankly, he should have a better chance than Taylor, since he only played on a few kickoffs against California.

It’s just the severity, which Friedgen hadn’t really gone into beyond acknowledging the sophomore tore his ACL.

“His knee’s pretty bad,” Friedgen said. “He has kind of the same type of knee as [Josh] Allen had.”

A case can be made Allen (along with Jermaine Lemons) had the most devastating ACL tear in Maryland’s program over the last five years. Allen suffered multiple torn ligaments and tendons, and simply wasn’t the same back after a year of arduous rehab. But he did return, and remains one of Friedgen’s favorite players.

Lemons’ injury wasn’t any better; he recounted to me last summer doctors told him it was “like a bomb had exploded inside my knee.” He too returned eventually

If that’s the sort of injury Herald is facing, then just working back toward playing will be a significant (and difficult) task – and securing an extra year of eligibility will be only a minor detail in that process.

Patrick Stevens