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Eligibility of Maryland's Armstrong in Question

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By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The eligibility of defensive tackle Dion Armstrong remained in question as Maryland opened practice Monday night.

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Terrapins Coach Ralph Friedgen said Armstrong, a 6-foot-1, 303-pound sophomore who played in all 13 games last season, will practice with the team as he waits to learn whether he will be academically eligible.

Losing Armstrong would be another setback to a defensive line that lost several key performers from last season. The line is one of Maryland's biggest concerns heading into the Sept. 5 opener at California.

"I think we've got the people; they're just young," Friedgen said. "We've just got to keep working with them and hope that they continue to get better."

Friedgen cited players such as Jared Harrell, Travis Ivey, Derek Drummond and Deege Galt as the linemen who will need to step up, "because it's their turn now. They've got to rise to the occasion."

Harrell, Ivey and Galt are seniors who have contributed to the line in previous seasons. Harrell played in every game last season, including two starts, and recorded five tackles for a loss. His 4.69 40-yard dash time (third best in program history among defensive linemen) reveals the speed he brings to the unit.

Ivey started the final four games last season and played in nine total. He was slowed early on by a nagging foot injury that forced him to sit out the first four games of the season. Galt played five games in reserve last season at defensive end.

Drummond, a redshirt sophomore, played four games in reserve last year at the LEO position, a spot that has been eliminated in defensive coordinator Don Brown's 4-3 system. He is expected to compete for one of the starting defensive end spots. Friedgen also praised redshirt freshman A.J. Francis, who will compete for playing time at nose tackle.

"When you lose your top four defensive linemen from last season and now you're going to a four-down linemen structure, that means you're making some drastic changes," Brown said. "Now, we won't be uniquely a four-down front, but at the same time, that's our starting point."

Competition for Kicker

One of the biggest position battles will occur at place kicker, but Friedgen said he wants to name an opening-game starter fairly early in camp.

Friedgen said Mike Barbour, a redshirt freshman, beat out junior Nick Wallace in spring practice but added that the competition was close. Friedgen now wants to see how freshman Nick Ferrara fares in the three-man race to replace Obi Egekeze. . . .

Junior wide receiver Emani Lee-Odai will miss "about a week" of practice with an ankle injury, Friedgen said. . . .

Practice was pushed back to 7 p.m. Monday because of the heat.

Staff writer Steve Yanda contributed to this report.


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