A combination of injuries and opponent could lead Maryland to using a new true freshman in the Dec. 29 Military Bowl, coach Ralph Friedgen said.
With cornerback Dexter McDougle (clavicle) out and East Carolina utilizing its Texas Tech-like offense, Maryland is suddenly is facing dicey depth in the secondary.
Cameron Chism and Trenton Hughes will assume their usual starting roles at cornerback. But after that, the Terps have Avery Graham (coming back from injury), Michael Carter (used primarily as a fifth defensive back this season) and true freshmen Mario Rowson and Jeremiah Johnson.
And that could lead to an uncomfortable decision if one of the starters is hurting in the bowl game.
"If we have to play Rowson or Johnson, we probably will," Friedgen said. "We don't want to. If we get another couple injuries, we'll have to. We have to line up and play, unless you want to come out of the stands and play."
If needed, Rowson or Johnson would become the fifth true freshman to play this season. Linebacker David Mackall and safety Matt Robinson have played consistently as reserves and on special teams. Safety Desmond Kearse played in three games before suffering ankle and knee injuries and is expected to be eligible for a medical hardship. Left tackle Max Garcia played roughly a quarter in a pinch against Florida State.
The upside? Maryland probably wouldn't take off the redshirt of both players for a bowl game. The downside? It's clear one of them will need to be prepared to play --- and use a year of eligibility --- at the end of the month.
"Mike has that nickel role, but I'm not afraid to play Mike Carter if I have to," defensive coordinator Don Brown said. "He would figure in based on where Avery is going into the game as either the three or four corner. Avery would figure in the other way. I'm making a decision at the end of this week. I'll have one of the true freshmen ready to go, but obviously that would be an emergency situation at this point in time."