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Mike Locksley Hired As Maryland Football Coach

December 4, 2018
Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley has been hired as Maryland's next head football coach, the school announced Dec. 4.

Brett McMurphy of Stadium was first to report Locksley's hire. Locksley will be introduced during a news conference Dec. 6.

Locksley will take over after several turbulent months for the Maryland program following the death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair in June. Former head coach DJ Durkin was placed on administrative leave in August and fired in October. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada served as the Terps' interim coach and led the team to a 5-7 record.

"I am thrilled to be returning home and to have the opportunity to lead the Maryland football program," Locksley said in a news release. "This has always been a special place for me and my family, and I am honored to take on this role at the state's flagship institution. Our goal is to create an atmosphere and environment focused on the total development of our student-athletes. Our focus will always be to help them become more successful in all areas of their life through their association with our program.

"I have been tremendously impressed at how the team came together through a difficult season and honored their fallen teammate, Jordan. We are all in this together, and I look forward to rejoining the Maryland family. Thank you to Damon Evans, President Loh and the entire Terrapin community for this opportunity."

Locksley, who will turn 49 later this month, has had two other stints at Maryland. He was the Terps' running backs coach from 1997-2002; he was also the recruiting coordinator from 1998-2002. He returned to Maryland as the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2012-2015. He served as the Terps' interim head coach for the final six games of the 2015 after Randy Edsall was fired.

Locksley was a candidate for the permanent head coaching position after the 2015 season, but the job instead went to Durkin. Locksley then became an offensive analyst in 2016 for Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who promoted Locksley each of the next two years. Locksley was the co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for the Crimson Tide in 2017.

Locksley has served as the Tide's lone offensive coordinator this year and won the 2018 Broyles Award as the nation's best assistant.

"As we narrowed the search for the individual best suited to lead our program, Michael not only stood out for his talent as a coach, but most importantly for the role he has played as a mentor to student-athletes throughout his career and his deep commitment to helping them grow into leaders on and off the field," Maryland athletic director Damon Evans said. "On the field, Michael orchestrated one of the country's most prolific offenses at the University of Alabama and has long been regarded for his recruiting prowess. Today he was recognized as the nation's top assistant coach in the country, and I'm excited for him to be leading our program."

Alabama went 13-1 and won the national championship last year. The Tide is 13-0 this year and won the SEC by defeating Georgia, 35-28, in the conference title game Dec. 1. Alabama, the top overall seed in the College Football Playoff, will face Oklahoma in a national semifinal Dec. 29.

Locksley's offense ranks No. 7 in the country in total offense (528 yards per game) and No. 2 in scoring (47.9 points per game). Locksley has worked with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, one of three Heisman Trophy finalists, the past three years. Tagovailoa has thrown for 3,353 yards and 37 touchdowns -- and just four interceptions -- while completing 67.7 percent of his passes. 

However, Locksley's track record as a head coach is uninspiring; he went 2-26 at New Mexico from 2009-2011 and 1-5 as Maryland's interim coach in 2012. He was also accused of punching an assistant during a coaches' meeting at New Mexico in 2009. Locksley denied the accusation.

Locksley's first priority at Maryland will be to help create a safe environment for his players after the missteps made in the death of McNair. University president Wallace Loh said in August that the school accepted "moral and legal responsibility" for McNair's death. An investigation into the culture of the Maryland football program -- which ESPN described as "toxic" in an August report -- found that "the Maryland football team did not have a 'toxic culture,' but it did have a culture where problems festered because too many players feared speaking out." 

Locksley will also have to revive a near-dormant recruiting situation. Maryland, which has just eight verbal commitments for its 2019 class, has the 84th-rated recruiting class nationally, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. The early signing period begins Dec. 19, giving Locksley little time to salvage the class.

However, if there's anyone who can rebuild trust in the area and rejuvenate local recruiting, it's Locksley. A native of Washington, D.C., Locksley brings a reputation as being one of the top recruiters in the DMV (D.C., Maryland and Virginia) and is revered in local football circles

Locksley will also be tasked with turning around a program that's long been plagued by mediocrity. The Terps are 82-103 since 2004.

This was updated to reflect Maryland's announcement of the Locksley hire.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox