The Washington Times - September 4, 2008, 07:50PM

Uh-oh. It’s time for another edition of “To Redshirt or Not to Redshirt.”

In this case, give Ralph Friedgen a little credit – he knows what the options in front of him are.

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With nose tackle Travis Ivey out with a broken foot, true freshman A.J. Francis isn’t far from playing. He’s No. 3 on the depth chart, behind Bemi Otulaja and Dion Armstrong.

Now, Ivey’s initial ETA optimistically placed him at getting back for the California game. Then it was Eastern Michigan. And today, Friedgen said he hoped to have Ivey in the lineup against Clemson on Sept. 27.

The longer Ivey stays sidelined, the better the odds Francis plays. But let’s say Francis is forced into action against California, plays in garbage time against Eastern Michigan and then Ivey returns and Francis falls to No. 4 at NT. What happens then?

The Terps probably don’t look all that smart. And Friedgen is fully aware of the predicament.

“What I’m worried about is we play him and Ivey comes back and he doesn’t get to play a lot and we kind of wasted a year,” Friedgen said. We have to do what we have to do to win games, so we’ll have to see.”

A patented fearless forecast: If somehow Francis is thrown into action and burns his redshirt for only a couple appearances, more than a few Maryland fans in 2012 will mention how nice it would be for Francis to be back as a fifth-year senior rather than having used him sparingly in the fall of ‘08. In fact, it’s pretty similar to what fans are saying now about Carlos Feliciano, who played in 2004 rather than redshirt.

Patrick Stevens