The Washington Times - September 17, 2008, 05:49PM

If there’s a topic I know I can write about and almost certainly receive a comment about, it’s Ralph Friedgen’s redshirting policy.

The big fella had some choices that in retrospect look pretty lousy. Playing wideout Danny Melendez in 2002 and defensive tackle Carlos Feliciano in 2004 for mostly unnecessary situations spring to mind. He also waited until the middle of the ‘04 season to play Jason Goode, and the tight end then suffered a season-ending injury in practice the next week.

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So those are the misfires, and it’s fair to wonder what Maryland’s receiving situation would have looked like with Melendez in 2006 and how much deeper the Terps’ defensive line would be this year with Feliciano.

But when you need to use a guy – especially when it’s early in the season – and he might be better than your other options, then you use him.

That might be the case right now with freshman Cameron Chism, who looks to be a decent bet to play this weekend (and several more afterward) with cornerback Richard Taylor out. Both Chism and safety Dominique Herald appear likely to burn their redshirts, and Chism’s seems to be creating some consternation.

If he comes in and plays in the next nine game – while etching out a greater role in a secondary that was clearly taxed in the fourth quarter on Saturday – then this is a good move. If he appears in three games or is relegated to work on one special teams unit, well, that isn’t such a bright move.

If you read between the lines, Chism probably isn’t quite ready for a big role now, but he very well might be in another month or so. So the argument becomes this: Why not start using him if he’s probably going to be good enough for a spot in the cornerback rotation by late October?

“He’s a freshman and he’s young, but he’s developed since the first day he got here,” junior cornerback Nolan Carroll said. “He’s just continuing to grow and there’s things he has to know like coverages and check downs, his footwork. Once he gets all that, he’ll be fine.”

That’s a pretty direct answer (which is about what to expect from Carroll, one of the team’s reliably insightful guys). It also says Friedgen probably isn’t off his rocker for throwing Chism into game action – even it does mean the local product will be leaving the program a year earlier than expected as a result.

Patrick Stevens