Maryland senior linebacker Kenny Tate is applying to return next season. He played in four games this year. (John McDonnell/THE WASHINGTON POST)

If senior Kenny Tate receives a medical hardship to return to the Maryland football team in 2012, he will remain at linebacker for the second consecutive season, Coach Randy Edsall said Tuesday.

“That is what he is,” Edsall said. “I think that is his best position to play at the next level and that is his best position for us.”

Edsall said Tate is tentatively scheduled to undergo surgery later this week for an injury that Edsall has declined to disclose to reporters. Edsall has also declined to say when Tate suffered the injury. Tate will seek a medical redshirt, allowing him to return next season.

Tate was a first-team all-ACC performer at safety last season. Edsall moved Tate this season to the Star position, a hybrid linebacker-safety slot. But Tate played in only the first four games this season, and Edsall said some of Tate’s early-season struggles could be attributed to the injury.

On Sunday, Edsall said it was “very obvious to me a couple weeks ago after seeing something I saw on film and watched in practice that Kenny was not able to go and perform the way he should perform. I was not going to put the young man on the field just to win a game.”

Maryland said Tate is expected to take six to nine months to recover. Tate was seen wearing a right leg wrap during warmups of the Oct. 8 game at Georgia Tech, the first of three consecutive games that he missed. He traveled to Saturday’s game at Florida State, but he did not suit up.

Mystery at quarterback

Edsall maintained that he will make a game-time decision on his starting quarterback for Saturday’s game against Boston College (1-6, 0-4 ACC), but he left open the possibility of playing both C.J. Brown and Danny O’Brien.

Brown, the mobile sophomore who started the last two games, is medically cleared to practice after being knocked out of Saturday’s 41-16 loss at Florida State by a helmet-to-helmet hit in the third quarter.

“It’s definitely scary,” Brown said of the hit. “I got a lot of texts from back home. And after seeing the replay, it looked pretty bad.”

O’Brien, who had been benched in the second quarter of the game at Georgia Tech, replaced Brown against the Seminoles and led Maryland on its only two touchdown drives. O’Brien said his confidence never faltered since being benched, and that the experience will ultimately make him a better person.

If he so chooses, O’Brien, a third-year sophomore, could transfer to another Football Bowl Subdivision team with two years of eligibility remaining and not sit out a year because he is expected to graduate this spring. The stipulation is that a player must then enroll in a graduate program that is not offered at his former school.

When a reporter asked O’Brien what the future holds for him after this season, he said: “I have not even thought about that. I would be doing a disservice to my teammates if I was thinking about anything after the season or anything after BC, honestly. Right now, it’s about keeping the blinders on and trying to beat a good defense.”

Edsall backs Ferrara

Place kicker Nick Ferrara had his shortest punt of the season (14 yards) and missed the first extra point of his career against Florida State. Ferrara also had a couple short kickoffs.

Edsall said on Sunday that Ferrara needed to “learn to settle down and just go out and kick” and that he “thinks too much sometimes.” On Tuesday, Edsall offered his kicker a vote of confidence, saying that he has to find a way to get Ferrara to relax.

“I have a lot of confidence in Nick Ferrara, I really do,” Edsall said. “Nick is the best guy that we have. The biggest thing with Nick is just consistency right now, just like some other aspects we have in our game. When Nick goes out and executes the technique, there is not a better punter in the country. His average at the beginning of the year was at the top. He can kick field goals over 50 yards.”