Maryland enters its final preseason football scrimmage with at least three starting positions to be decided largely on the basis of today's performances.
Coach Bobby Ross said the closed scrimmage "will be a dress rehearsal for game procedure. There are still some positions up for grabs, most of them backup positions. We need to establish our depth squad, and some of our special teams players could come from the scout team in the scrimmage."
The starting spots that have yet to be filled are center and both outside linebacker positions. Also, senior wide receiver Sean Sullivan has moved up from third on the depth chart to claim a share of the starting spot with Eric Holder.
At left outside linebacker, senior co-captain Scott Schankweiler finds himself sharing the No. 1 spot with sophomore Sean Scott.
Schankweiler began the season on the right side. But after an excellent performance in a scrimmmage Saturday, junior Steve Kelly -- who started the year as No. 3 -- was elevated to the No. 1 spot and Schankweiler moved to the left side, where he played last season.
Kelly isn't assured of a starting spot either, because sophomore Alston O'Brien has had a good camp.
What Ross has is four players still competing for two jobs. And that number would increase to five, if Ross includes Terry Burke, who is behind Schankweiler and Scott on the left side.
"There are so many players, and they're all pretty even," Ross said.
Center is a little less complicated. Redshirt freshman John Rugg and converted defensive lineman David Amend, a sophomore, still are sharing time equally. And if neither emerges during the scrimmage and over the next week, both could play against Penn State in the season opener Sept. 7 at Byrd Stadium.
Similarly, Holder and Sullivan probably will share the load at split end because of Sullivan's return to form. Sullivan, who missed most of last season with a series of injuries, has made a rather dramatic reversal.
"He did not have as good a spring as we expected," Ross said, "and he was not is as good a shape as he would like to have been. But now he's back to being the old Sean Sullivan. In fact, he's ahead of where he was. He's concentrating a lot better."
Sullivan isn't as fast as Holder or wideout Azizuddin Abdur-Ra'oof, the other starting receiver. But his precise, efficient pass routes will come in handy.
Based on last week's scrimmage and two-a-day workouts, Ross said, "We thought that Sean deserved to be considered a first-teamer, so that's the way we'll leave it.
"It's an important day," Ross said of today's closed scrimmage, from which the media, pro scouts and spectators will be barred. "Things can change rapidly for us. We've already told them, 'You can still catch our eye in practice any day.' But we need to get some things set to prepare (specifically for Penn State)."
Ross was encouraged by the return of senior left tackle Tony Edwards, who sprained a foot last week, and senior cornerback Donald Brown, who had pulled a hamstring. Both took part in morning and afternoon workouts yesterday.
Tight end Ferrell Edmunds (tight hamstring) and cornerback Keeta Covington -- both starters -- were held out of practice yesterday, but Ross expects both to be healthy next week.
"We're at the point now where we've got a lot of aches and pains," Ross said on his last day of full two-a-day drills. "We lightened up this morning and we're going to back off a little. Wednesday morning, all we're going to work on is two-minute drills."
He said he will wait until later in the week before deciding whether several freshmen -- some who have performed impressively in scrimmages -- will be redshirted or allowed to go into competition for playing time.