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Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown leaves for Connecticut

By Steve Yanda and Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, February 5, 2011; 12:00 AM

Don Brown will leave his job as Maryland's defensive coordinator to accept the same position at Connecticut, the schools announced on Friday afternoon.

Brown, who came to Maryland in January 2009 as part of former coach Ralph Friedgen's staff, was retained by new Maryland Coach Randy Edsall when he was hired earlier this year from Connecticut. The Huskies hired former Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni to replace Edsall.

Edsall said in a telephone interview he had "no clue" that Brown was considering leaving.

"It was one of those things where I got a phone call late yesterday [from Connecticut] asking if they could talk" to Brown, Edsall said.

Edsall, who said he spoke to the team on Friday, has not set a timetable to hire Brown's replacement and is weighing whether to promote one of his current assistants or make an outside hire. Edsall also has to hire a new running backs coach after David Walker left to join the Indianapolis Colts' coaching staff earlier this week.

"There's different options that I can go, and what I'm going to do is explore my options and go from there," Edsall said when asked about hiring Brown's replacement. "I'm going to get the best person to come in here and take over."

Brown has extensive experience as a coach in New England. From 2004 to 2008, he was the head coach at Massachusetts, and before that spent four seasons as the head coach at Northeastern. He also was an assistant at Brown, Yale and Dartmouth.

Known for his complex blitzing schemes, Brown crafted a defense that ranked 39th nationally in yards allowed per game in 2010 (352.31 yards per game) and 21st against the run (124.46 yards per game). Opposing quarterbacks compiled a 107.59 rating against the Terrapins last season, the ninth-lowest rating in the nation.

"He's been down here two years without his family, and his daughter had a baby. He just felt that he was going to go back home," Edsall said. "He was here for two years without them, and it was very, very difficult. Plus, his daughter had a baby, and she's 19. So he felt that he needed to go back home."

Edsall does not anticipate any recently signed recruits asking to break their letters-of-intent. "You sign with the school based on the school, not the coach," Edsall said. "I think that's what it's all about."

Among the prospects who signed with Maryland on Wednesday was Quince Orchard linebacker Alex Twine. On the same day Maryland announced that Brown would be retained under Edsall, Brown went to meet with Twine and his family, according to Quince Orchard Coach Dave Mencarini.

"I'm pretty surprised, to say the least," Mencarini said of the news Brown was leaving for Connecticut.

Mencarini said Friday afternoon he had not yet talked to Twine because he had a basketball game Friday night. Mencarini called the timing of the departure "peculiar" being so soon after national signing day.

"He signed his national letter-of-intent," Mencarini said. "There really are no options. I don't believe kids have much flexibility. Alex really wants to be a Terp. He wants to play at Maryland. That's always been his goal. We went through a transition with the coaching change. This is just another transition that we will have to make."

Bowie High cornerback A.J. Hendy said he signed with Maryland after the head coaching change because of the bond he had developed with Brown.

"The first time I went up to Maryland I felt a real connection with Coach Brown," Hendy said earlier this week. "He's a football guy. I think he knows the game a lot. It's amazing. Every time I go up there he's got a new cornerback [video] cut up or a DB cut up for me to watch. I feel like we're on the same level with the love we have for the game."

yandas@washpost.com prisbelle@washpost.com

Staff writer Matt Bonesteel contributed to this report.

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