The Washington Times - September 23, 2009, 05:42PM

In a post last week about the most valuable players on Maryland’s roster, safety Jamari McCollough was included with the likes of Bruce Campbell, Nolan Carroll and Chris Turner.

Ahead of Torrey Smith. Ahead of Adrian Moten. Ahead of Da’Rel Scott.

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That probably stood out as a bit odd, but McCollough is one of the Terps’ smartest players. He calls out plays in the secondary. And he provided some versatility – not just with his own skillset, but his ability to let the Terps unleash Kenny Tate.

And yesterday, defensive coordinator Don Brown said as much when asked about how much of a boost Maryland will receive when McCollough returns from a high left ankle sprain.

“I don’t know because we’ve only had him for seven plays and the last play that he was in, it was for minus-three yards,” Brown said. “It would have certainly helped us keep Kenny Tate fresher so he could have done the things we were doing with him in camp. Now, we’ve forced him into another role. It’s taken him out of the role that I’d kind of mapped out for him. We just have to move forward. We can’t cry about it.”

No, but it is a worthwhile acknowledgment about a defense that hasn’t quite worked as well as most folks thought it would over the first three games.

Then again, with two starters down in the secondary and a scheme that relies on defensive backs, the problems aren’t entirely shocking. And perhaps things will improve some whenever McCollough comes back.

“Who knows what’s going to happen there,” Brown said. “I’m still keeping my fingers crossed. At the same time, we’re still moving forward.”

Patrick Stevens