The Washington Times - October 6, 2008, 11:35AM

It made sense last year to hold off on throwing any of Maryland’s true freshmen offensive linemen into the mix even as injuries piled up.

But there’s little reason to rein those guys in right now … unless they’re still not ready.

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This is problem not just now, when the regulars aren’t playing especially well, but also for next season when the Terps will need to find five new linemen for their rotation to replace the seniors departing after this season.

So can any of the redshirt freshmen help this year?

“I don’t know,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I’ll be interested to see. A lot of them are going to play in this JV game. [Joe] Faiella, he was hurt but he is back now. Kid like [Andrew] Gonnella, he might be able to come up and help us. Stephen St. John has been up and down, he’s been working with us. He’s ready, but is he better than what we’ve got? I don’t know.”

Let’s look at that class of seven scholarship linemen, which presumably should be getting close to being useful about now:

* Bruce Campbellplayed some last year, is a mountain of a man and can be safely penciled in as next year’s starting left tackle barring a catastrophe.

* St. John played briefly against Eastern Michigan and seems to be a travel roster fixture, but the Terps are clearly reluctant to play him much.

* The same could be said for guard Lamar Young, who didn’t make this week’s trip because of a foot injury. He seemed close to helping last year, but it’s clear given his use (or lack thereof) he has not progressed.

* Tyler Bowen, who had offseason foot surgery, seems unlikely to play this year. Friedgen sees him as an ideal right tackle – a smart player, not necessarily the most mobile, and most importantly huge. If he doesn’t pan out, it will probably be because of injuries and not player evaluation.

* Faiella missed most of camp and September with a partially torn Achilles’ tendon.

* Maurice Hampton’s name has hardly been mentioned all season. And Bearthur Johnson, while noticeably slimmer than at the start of camp, is still a conditioning concern.

Now, these guys shouldn’t be needed this year, but it still would have been helpful to get some of them semi-regular playing time.

Instead, they’re going to need to be ready early next season to help fill out a line where the only certainties seem to be Campbell and Phil Costa … and whether they are or not will be the biggest mystery for the program heading into 2009.

Patrick Stevens