The Freshman 16

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In lieu of the weekly will-he-or-won’t-he post about A.J. Francis, it seems like a good time to provide a look at Maryland’s 16 true freshmen.

Four have already played. As many as three more potentially could. And Ralph Friedgen thinks this is an optimistic sign, since these guys are getting on the field while playing on the same roster as 30 seniors.

He’s probably right about the talent level, but it still would be better in the long term if Cameron Chism could have redshirted. But now that he isn’t, Friedgen would be wise to use him plenty in the final two-thirds of the season.

So there’s three categories of true freshmen: The guys who have played, the guys who could play, and the near-certain redshirts.

HAVE PLAYED

CB Cameron Chism: Used on kickoff coverage last week, his role will probably expand as the season progresses. He’s been described as a “2.5” on the depth chart. Now that he’s played, Maryland would be smart to use him plenty to make the burned shirt worthwhile.

TE Matt Furstenburg: He popped up on the kickoff return team the first few weeks, but was replaced heading into the California game. I don’t remember seeing much of him in other situations and he hasn’t played the last two weeks. This could turn out to be a missed opportunity to redshirt in the long term.

TB Davin Meggett: The only true freshman to start this season, Meggett appears likely to maintain a role of some kind as long as he is healthy.

S Kenny Tate: The DeMatha product is playing plenty at strong safety and on special teams. It’d be fun to see what he could do with regular kick return work, though Torrey Smith is doing a solid job in that role.

COULD PLAY

DT A.J. Francis:Travis Ivey is expected to return this week, and that could (for the time being) spell the end of Francis’ chances of playing for now. Dave Sollazzo the defensive line coach is probably doing Dave Sollazzo the recruiting coordinator a favor here; the fewer defensive linemen you have to uncover, the better. Francis redshirting would delay looking for another d-lineman by a year.

LB Demetrius Hartsfield: Friedgen hinted late last month that Hartsfield could work his way into things this season. It would come as no shock if he played on special teams soon. One caveat: He didn’t travel to the Middle Tennessee game, so who knows if he’ll be on the travel list to Clemson.

G Justin Lewis: Friedgen seems pretty certain Lewis will be ready this year. But at some point, it’s going to make sense not to waste a year for a limited number of games. That point is probably the Wake Forest game, though Friedgen might not see it that way. At that point, half the season will be left and the Terps will be coming off a bye. There will be no better time to start using Lewis, if Maryland indeed goes that route.

If not, it might be wise just to hold him back. After all, the Terps are averaging 61.5 plays a game (hardly huge stuff) and routinely only use seven linemen (Paul Pinegar has played in two games and has to be considered the eighth lineman at this point.)

HAND THEM A REDSHIRT

WR Kerry Boykins: The Hampton Roads product was mentioned a few weeks back for his work on the scout team. But if there’s one position where it would be foolhardy to burn a shirt this year, it’s at wideout.

TE Devonte Campbell: With Dan Gronkowski, Tommy Galt and Lansford Watson handling the tight end duties (and with Furstenburg already playing), there’s not much need to waste a year of Campbell’s eligibility just yet.

OL R.J. Dill: Collected some praise in camp, but appears to be going the way of most offensive linemen – redshirt, hit the weight room, and check back in next fall.

WR Kevin Dorsey: Arrived a semester early, but season-ending surgery zapped any chance of playing.

TB Gary Douglas:  A taller, less bulky back than Meggett, his name will probably pop up more in the spring.

OL Justin Gilbert: Not someone we’ve heard mentioned since camp.

DL Masengo Kabongo: If the Terps are wishy-washy on using Francis, they wouldn’t have much reason to be gung-ho about tossing Kabongo out just yet, either.

DL Carl Russell: Still out with a broken foot, but with only a week of practice to his credit during camp, he won’t be seeing the field this season even if the foot is healed.

DL Joe Vellano: The snakebit former grayshirt’s shoulder problems ensure he’ll be wearing green jerseys aplenty during practice.

Patrick Stevens

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