Terps Football: Mike Locksley To Be Named Head Coach
Following a season full of drama and turmoil, the Maryland Terrapins have hired Mike Locksley in one of the least dramatic head coaching searches you’ll ever see (per Brett McMurphy.) Given his strong ties to the DMV area and to the university, it was natural to believe he’d be at or near the top of the athletic department’s list. The hiring comes the same day he won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top collegiate assistant coach. So without much ceremony or runaround, Locksley will officially be announced as the team’s new head football coach at a press conference on Thursday.
(Discuss this article on the BSL Message Board here.)
Right Fit, Right Time
For a program that has been through so much in the past few months, it was crucial to find a head coach who could right the ship with solid leadership and quickly build a rapport with the players and their families. This will be the third time Locksley has coached at Maryland, and the first time as a full-time head coach. He was the team’s running backs coach and recruiting coordinator from 1998-2002 under Ron Vanderlinden and Ralph Friedgen. Returning in 2012, he was Maryland’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2012-2015 under Randy Edsall. When Edsall was fired midway through the 2015 season, Locksley took over as the interim head coach and led the team to a 1-5 record.
Locksley has 26 years of coaching experience, and has spent the last 3 years on Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama. He currently serves as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator, leading what is the most explosive and successful offense in Saban’s 11 years in Tuscaloosa. Despite his success as an offensive coach during his career, what he’s primarily known for is his recruiting prowess. His ability to relate to high school players and get them to believe in him is extremely impressive, and has made him one of the best recruiters of the talent-rich DMV area.
Critics will point to Locksley’s overall head coaching record and some of the scandals that occurred during his time at New Mexico. He has compiled a 3-31 record as a head coach, had an age and sex discrimination lawsuit filed against him which was later withdrawn, and was suspended for an altercation with an assistant coach. While concerns regarding these issues are certainly valid, it should be noted that they occurred nearly 10 years ago and a coach like Saban had no qualms about bringing him onto his staff. And while his head coaching record isn’t good by any stretch, keep in mind that 26 of those losses came while he was about as far from the DMV area as you could get. At Maryland, he’ll be able to recruit right in his backyard.
With Maryland’s football season over, Locksley’s first and only order of business will be recruiting. We are less than two weeks away from College football’s early signing period concluding December 19th, and a little over two months away from National Signing Day February 6th. After back-to-back Top 30 classes in 2017 and 2018; the ’19 class is currently in shambles due to the events of this year. To-date the current class has just 8 members, none of whom are blue-chips. Alabama currently has commitments from 4 DMV players, and Locksley was the primary recruiter for all of them. All 4 are blue-chip 4-star recruits, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can bring one or more of them with him to College Park.
While adding Locksley to the coaching staff will do wonders for the program’s DMV recruiting, former head coach DJ Durkin had a few assistants who would certainly be worth holding on to. Cornerbacks coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim was named by 247Sports as one of the 10 best recruiters in the Big Ten Conference. Associate head coach, co-offensive coordinator, and wide receivers coach Chris Beatty was also recognized as one of the best recruiters in the conference. If Locksley can hold on to these two assistants, the program will be in an extremely good position to lock up the DMV.