The Washington Times - August 21, 2009, 10:57AM

At the ACC Kickoff last month, I asked Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen which true freshmen he could see playing this season.

Friedgen was noncommittal, citing a philosophy and not heaping too much pressure on newcomers to contribute in their first season.

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That’s probably a good idea, but sometimes the day-to-day reality can trump the desire to avoid placing a freshman on the spot.

This year’s exhibit: Defensive tackle Zach Kerr, who almost certainly will have to play a fair amount in his first season.

“He’s getting better,” Friedgen said. “He is a true freshman, but I have seen improvement from him this camp. Dave [Sollazzo] is working him pretty hard.”

For good reason. The numbers dictate that Kerr will be required sooner rather than later. Travis Ivey and A.J. Francis are locked in at tackle, but the losses of Dion Armstrong (academics/transfer) and Joe Vellano (stress fracture/out until October) have slashed the Terps’ depth.

One of the subs is Ian Davidson, a redshirt sophomore. The other is Kerr, who attended prep school last fall and arrived in College Park in time for spring practice.

“It’s important for him to come on and play for us,” Friedgen said.

Patrick Stevens