In a move expected for more than a week, Maryland announced Thursday that it has brought back former running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Locksley to be the team’s offensive coordinator.
The hiring of Locksley, a 41-year-old former Maryland assistant for six years (1997-2002), was expected since last week’s departure of Gary Crowton, who lasted only one season as Coach Randy Edsall’s offensive coordinator.
The Terrapins are hopeful the return of Locksley produces immediate recruiting dividends because the Washington native and former Towson defensive back has strong long-standing relationships with prospects and high school coaches throughout the region.
“I’ve always had an affinity for the University of Maryland . . .” Locksley said in a teleconference. “This is a great year in terms of [area] recruits. And it’s always been a place that has always had top talent, which is why wherever I have coached I have tried to maintain the relationships in this area.”
The addition of Locksley will trigger a change in offensive scheme. After Crowton installed a hurry-up, spread offense this past season, Edsall said, the Terrapins will run a multiple pro-style offense with some spread principles.
The pro-style offense could be better suited for the skill set of quarterback Danny O’Brien, who this past season struggled to match the success he had when he won the ACC’s rookie of the year award in 2010. Edsall said the offense would be tailored to the talents of the players he has.
Locksley said he had a chance to interact with O’Brien while on a campus a few days ago and called the sophomore a “terrific” quarterback and great student-athlete.
Locksley was fired from his only college head coaching job, at New Mexico, on Sept. 25 after going 2-26. Struggles occurred amid off-field allegations: In 2009, Locksley served a 10-day unpaid suspension after an altercation with a former New Mexico assistant. Also in 2009, a former administrative assistant at New Mexico filed an age and sex discrimination complaint against Locksley with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The claim was later withdrawn.
When asked about his concern about the perception of the hire in light of off-field issues, Edsall said, “I am not concerned about that. We’ve talked to the people, talked to Mike, and I know Mike is going to be a tremendous asset here to us as we continue to move forward with our program and be a mentor, a coach and a parent to our players here at the University of Maryland.”
Locksley said this opportunity is about “moving forward” and added: “There’s been a lot of things said, written over the last two and a half years that has no validity to it and have been unfounded . . . Had the things that had been said and constantly written about me had the validity, the best proof is that the University of New Mexico has honored the contractual obligations they’ve had to me.
“Had those things taken place the way they’ve been reported, I’d venture to say with the lack of success we had on the field, they probably would not have had to honor their contract.”
In terms of the search, Edsall said Locksley was atop a short list of candidates to replace Crowton. Edsall had known Locksley through recruiting and coaching circles and because Towson Coach Rob Ambrose, a former Edsall assistant at Connecticut, was a teammate of Locksley at Towson.
Locksley has earned his reputation through his success in recruiting at three Football Bowl Subdivision schools: Maryland, Florida and Illinois. Locksley was named a top-25 recruiter three different times (2003, 2005, 2006) and was a finalist in 2007 for national recruiter of the year by Rivals.com.