COLLEGE PARK -- It was more than a hint. What Maryland quarterbacks coach Jerry Eisaman told Scott Milanovich was a tipoff.
Don't lift weights with the other freshmen Friday, Eisaman instructed Milanovich. You might find yourself quarterbacking the Terps against West Virginia Saturday.
Clearly, uncertainty envelops the Terps at quarterback. The questions:
Will the No. 1, Jim Sandwisch, who has a fever, a sore throat, a sore shoulder and a sore elbow, be able to start?
If not, are the coaches sufficiently enamored of junior college transfer John Kaleo, the No. 2, to start him in Sandwisch's place?
If not, would coach Joe Krivak dare start the No. 3, Milanovich -- a freshman, a true freshman, just four months out of Butler (Pa.) High School -- in Maryland's third game of the season?
"I'm reluctant to play a true freshman," Krivak said.
But he didn't let it go at that. During his weekly news conference yesterday, Krivak acted like a man wrestling with his conscience.
"But you've got to play the next best player," Krivak said. "He keeps catching my eye, looks better and better. He has a certain presence. We're not ruling out the possibility of him playing Saturday."
Krivak was warming to the subject. He talked about the strong arm of Milanovich, 6 feet 3 and 210 pounds, his rapid understanding of Maryland's offense, his ability to read a defense and react to it.
"We had a two-minute drill in practice and he took the team right downfield -- click, click, click," Krivak said. "When you see that, you say to yourself maybe we've got to use this guy."
In case you haven't gathered, Krivak is excited about Scott Milanovich.
It may all be academic, of course. By Saturday, Sandwisch might the picture of health. Or Kaleo, who played the second half of the Syracuse loss with indifferent results, may demonstrate this week he's the clear No. 2 behind Sandwisch.
But there will remain a certain fascination about Milanovich, the true freshman. The first-team all-state quarterback in Pennsylvania last fall as selected by the Associated Press, Milanovich passed for 2,800 yards and 32 touchdowns during his career at Butler. For a time, his father Gary, now Butler's athletic director, was the team's backfield coach.
Milanovich was wooed by Pitt and Louisville as well as Maryland. He felt he "couldn't handle city life at Pitt" and was swayed by Maryland's campus and "great quarterbacks tradition."
"In high school I played with better players and against better players than a lot of guys do," Milanovich said. "The big adjustment here is reading defenses and handling the responsibility that goes with being a quarterback."
Milanovich tried to take calmly Eisaman's order not to lift weights with the other freshmen Friday.
"I don't want to get too excited because if I don't play, then I'll get bummed," Milanovich said.
Until Sandwisch is ready, Milanovich will get as many practice repetitions as Kaleo. Eisaman points out that Kaleo has "only 15 more days of experience [from spring practice]" than Milanovich, ignoring Kaleo's two years at Montgomery College-Rockville.
"I have no reservations about playing a true freshman," Eisaman said. "It's not like throwing him to the wolves. He's cool, aware and a student of the game, reading defenses well for a freshman.
"The way he has prepared himself, he'll probably get playing time."
That appears to be inevitable. Whether it's sooner or later this season depends in part on Sandwisch's health.