Continuing to track my pet peeve of burnt redshirts*, let's get to the second installment of Redshirt Tracking. After the Terps played four true freshmen in the against Miami, they've toned down the redshirt burning a little through the next three games ... but not much. Through four games on the year, Randy Edsall and the Terrapins (which would actually make a surprisingly adequate band name) have burnt a total of eight freshmen shirts, including both major contributors and some guys on the special teams squad.
A quick run-down of the eight, in order of the impact they've had / are expected to have on the season.
Justus Pickett, RB, 111 rushing yards, 1 TD: By all accounts, the North Carolinian has supplanted D.J. Adams as the #2 running back behind Davin Meggett. In addition to returning kickoffs, Pickett has been a reliable ball-carrier, with 24 rushing attempts and a 4.6 yard per carry average. He scored his first touchdown last week against Towson, and Edsall wants to play him even more. He's not physical nor decisive enough right now, but that will improve with time. Wether or not he should be on the field, especially over D.J. Adams, is a matter of debate, but I won't begrudge the staff burning the redshirt of a player they expect to contribute so heavily.
Keith Bowers, DE, 11 tackles, 3 starts: Bowers obviously impressed the coaches and burnt his redshirt right away. The injury to starting defensive end Isaiah Ross has forced Bowers into the starting role, and until Ross returns, he'll hold it. He's played well, though he hasn't blown the doors off the place and doesn't have a sack yet. He's a freshman, though, so what do you expect? Again, it's tough to be upset over burning the redshirt of a starter.
Alex Twine, LB, 1 tackle: Twine is a victim of Maryland's lack of linebacker depth. When Darin Drakeford went down with an injury in the opener, Twine was forced into the two-deep and seeing major playing time. He's not starting - Lorne Goree has become the third starter - but he's moved into fourth linebacker territory, so he's getting a fair amount of snaps. He's played in all four games so far this year, and will probably play in all 12.
Tyler Cierski, FB, 1 reception, 1 TD: Cierski has played in all four games, but has only gotten a handful of snaps. The first time he touched the ball was in the Towson game last Saturday, though, coolly enough, it was a score. Cierski is a likely four-year starter at fullback; a redshirt burning is well within rights.
Marcus Leak, WR, 2 receptions, 14 yards: Leak was one of Maryland's more notable commitments last season, a shifty wideout perfect for the slot receiver spot. He burnt his redshirt against West Virginia, after the suspensions were doled out to Ronnie Tyler and Quintin McCree. Both of his receptions have been on screen passes, which work well with his elusiveness. Now that Tyler and McCree are both back in, it's doubtful that he'll get much playing time, but he could still factor in occasionally. Bit short-sighted on that one, probably.
A.J. Hendy, S: Hendy burnt his redshirt last weekend against Towson. He's become the resident #3 safety, and his redshirt became another casualty of depth: once Matt Robinson went down with a season-ending injury, they didn't have the luxury of preserving his 'shirt. He can sub in at cornerback, the position he was recruited for, and might have the highest ceiling of all of Maryland's freshmen this year. I would've preferred him to keep his redshirt, but if he sees the field enough it's understandable why the staff felt their hands were forced.
Cole Farrand, LB: Pretty much the same situation as Twine, I assume. The staff learned that Drakeford will be injured for some time, and Farrand is being pushed into emergency duty. He debuted in the Towson game on Saturday, though he must've seen only a handful of snaps at best, potentially some on special teams. I'll be intrigued to see how he handles more snaps, if he gets them.
Tyrek Cheeseboro, WR, 2 tackles: I really don't get this one. Cheese saw his first PT against Towson last week, only seeing time on special teams. Now that Tyler and McCree are back in, it's doubtful he'll get any snaps on offense, especially with Leak's 'shirt already burnt. I never appreciate this type of thing; I'm sure Cheeseboro is great on special teams (hey, two tackles) but are two dozen special teams snaps worth an entire season of his eligibility down the line? What if he turns into a Torrey Smith-like talent? Could Webb Dulin really not do this, or even Leak? Don't get it.
Pretty brutal, all in all, given that they've burnt 8 redshirts in only 4 games. Then again, most of them were unfortunate necessities, driven by the mass exodus the program experienced in the months following Edsall's arrival. That might've been his fault, but you have to deal with it some way.
The good news? Edsall says he's done burning redshirts and wants to protect the remaining 14. I hope so.
*Yes, I know that technically they aren't entirely wasted redshirts, given that they retain them throughout their career and can be used any time. But that almost never happens, and is usually counterproductive; if a player was contributing in their freshman year but then is expendable enough to be redshirted later, it's doubtful they'll become useful again.