Maryland finally made it official: The school on Thursday announced that former running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Locksley will return as the team’s offensive coordinator.
The hiring of Locksley, a 41-year-old former Maryland assistant for six years (1998-2002), was expected ever since last Wednesday’s departure of Gary Crowton, who lasted just one season as Coach Randy Edsall’s offensive coordinator.
The Terrapins are hopeful that the return of Locksley produces immediate recruiting dividends because the former New Mexico head coach has strong relationships with prospects and high school coaches throughout the region.
“Mike is passionate about Maryland football and we are happy to welcome him back home,” Edsall said in a statement. “He has a tremendous offensive mind and his recruiting ties to the state of Maryland and the Washington, D.C., area will play a key role for us moving forward. He brings excellent qualifications and a commitment to upholding the excellent standards for our university.”
Edsall will address the hiring in a 1 p.m. teleconference with reporters.
After finishing 2-10 this past season, Edsall has pledged to make necessary “tweaks” to make strides in his second year. The departure of Crowton, who had a three-year deal paying him an annual compensation of more than $500,000, and the expected hiring of Locksley represent significant change.
Locksley was fired from his only college head coaching job, at New Mexico, on Sept. 25 after going 2-26. But the former Towson defensive back 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.
“I have always had an affinity for this university and am honored to have the opportunity to rejoin the Maryland Terrapins family,” Locksley said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Coach Edsall and focusing my energy on leading our offense and recruiting student-athletes that will make a positive mark on the field and in our community.”
After serving as an assistant at Maryland for six seasons under Ron Vanderlinden and then Ralph Friedgen, Locksley was named running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Florida under Ron Zook in February 2003.
In 2005, Locksley again joined forces with Zook, this time at Illinois, where Locksley was hired as Zook’s offensive coordinator. At Illinois, Locksley established somewhat of a D.C. pipeline to Champaign, Ill., helping to sign at least nine players from the Washington area, including touted wide receiver Arrelious Benn.
Also at Illinois, Locksley helped improve the offense from 86th nationally in total offense in 2005 to 19th in 2008.
After Friedgen was fired in December 2010, Locksley was interested in the Maryland head coaching position, believing that he could secure elite area prospects because of his relationships. At the time, he was not interested in being an offensive coordinator.
In 2009, Locksley served a one-game suspension without pay 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.
Crowton has moved into a non-coaching administrative role for the next three months that will pay him up to $125,000. According to Crowton’s unsigned contract as offensive coordinator, he had a three-year deal with an annual compensation of more than $500,000.
Crowton recently had openly campaigned for the Colorado State head coaching job by telling the Denver Post that he “very much” wanted the job. The Rams hired Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain last week.