On Tuesday, Maryland offensive line coach Tom Brattan was weighing the costs and benefits of playing true freshman tackle Max Garcia.
He might not have much of a choice now.
The on-field effect of Pete DeSouza's season-ending motor scooter accident could be the debut and emergence of Garcia, one of the top players in Maryland's 2010 recruiting class.
Brattan, a veteran not prone to hyperbole, is not shy about how much talent Garcia brought to College Park.
"I have to fine-tune myself, because I recruited him," Brattan said. "I have to separate myself from that. I'm being very honest here. But he's got some skills."
He certainly has the frame. At 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds, Garcia passes the eyeball test, especially for a true freshman.
But there's more than height and weight that excited the Terps' staff. Coach Ralph Friedgen acknowledged recently Garcia isn't completely polished, but he's progressed to the point he might be better than some of the Terps' redshirt freshmen linemen.
"I think he competes," sophomore tackle R.J. Dill said. "He plays whistle to whistle. ... Max is going to be a good player here as long as he continues to work, and he's one of the hardest-working guys we have. You can't say enough good things about a kid like that."
Dill is the current left tackle, making the shift from the right side when Justin Gilbert was lost for the season Sept. 18. When that happened, Maryland was reduced to Dill, DeSouza and Nick Klemm to use at tackle without fretting about lifting a redshirt.
With DeSouza out with two broken legs, Garcia seems almost certain to play this season --- and quite possibly Saturday at Boston College.
"He's got a lot of ability," Brattan said. "He was very well-coached in high school; hat's off to his offensive line coach in high school. A lot of seniors, they get recruited and sign and they go into chill mode. He ran track, so he lifted like a demon so he came in here with enough strength that he could compete. He wasn't getting ragdolled around because he had no upper-body strength. He's pretty strong kid for a true freshman, and he's pretty smart."
Maryland might need him to be. The list of true freshmen linemen who have started at least one game during Friedgen's tenure is a short one.
Stephon Heyer. Jared Gaither. Bruce Campbell. Bennett Fulper. Three of those guys are playing in the NFL.
Maryland is hoping Garcia does as well --- at least after he leaves his mark in College Park.
That might begin by helping to fill in a suddenly huge hole on the line in the second half of this season.
"He never missed a day of school in high school or elementary school. He's never missed a day of school," Brattan said. "To me, that's remarkable in this day and age. He knows how to budget his time, he's got a great work ethic and he's learned the system pretty good. Is he picture-perfect? No. But he's pretty talented."