Elijah Brooks, coach of Washington area high school power DeMatha, said he has joined Maryland’s football staff as running backs coach.
Brooks had been head coach at DeMatha, located in Hyattsville, Md., two miles from the Maryland campus, since 2011. He resigned from DeMatha on Tuesday and signed a two-year deal to join new Maryland Coach Michael Locksley’s staff. Brooks addressed DeMatha players and staff about his departure Wednesday morning.
“It was truly an honor to lead DeMatha for the past eight years,” Brooks said in a statement. “I shared so many great experiences with phenomenal coaches, players, colleagues and parents. I’m excited to begin the next chapter at the University of Maryland.”
Brooks won four consecutive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference titles with DeMatha from 2013 to 2016. He brought the Stags back to the WCAC title game this past year but lost, 46-43, on a Hail Mary touchdown pass by rival Gonzaga.
Locksley’s decision to hire Brooks shows the new coach’s focus on local ties and recruiting. Ten players on Maryland’s roster this past season were from DeMatha, including running backs Anthony McFarland Jr. and Lorenzo Harrison III, offensive linemen Marcus Minor and Terrance Davis, wide receiver DJ Turner and defensive back Tino Ellis.
In the class of 2019, DeMatha players Nick Cross and DeMarcco Hellams, both safeties, rank No. 2 and No. 3 in the state, respectively. Cross is committed to Florida State, while Hellams is committed to Alabama. Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban visited Hellams at DeMatha this week.
Locksley and his nascent staff will need to hurry to salvage Maryland’s 2019 signing class, which ranks last in the Big Ten. On Wednesday, Isaiah Hazel announced his commitment to Maryland. Hazel, a four-star wide receiver from Wise High in Upper Marlboro, Md., previously planned to play for West Virginia. Hazel became just the ninth member of Maryland’s signing class.
A handful of high schoolers have tweeted in recent days that they have received offers from Maryland, including Adrian Cole, a three-star cornerback from Florida committed to Syracuse; Davis DiVall, a three-star offensive lineman from Maine committed to Temple; and Mason Lunsford, a three-star offensive lineman from Good Counsel High in Maryland.
Brooks is the first coach to confirm he is joining the Maryland staff since Locksley was introduced as Maryland’s head coach last week. Locksley is a Washington native who worked at Maryland for 10 seasons over two previous stints as an assistant before spending the past three seasons at Alabama. Locksley attended Ballou High in the District and Towson University outside Baltimore.
Brooks was only 27 when he was promoted to head coach at DeMatha, where he was the team’s running backs coach from 2007 to 2011. He is a 2002 graduate of DeMatha, where he played running back on the football team and was point guard on the basketball team.
At this time, there is no indication of who will replace Brooks as DeMatha’s head coach, though there are multiple promising internal candidates, including assistant coaches Josh Wilson and Justin Cunningham. At Maryland, Brooks takes the place of Jafar Williams, who had been with the program for one year. It remains unclear whether Williams, a former Maryland wide receiver, will stay with the program in a different capacity.
In his introductory news conference last week, Locksley said of building his staff: “That’s not something that I’m going to take lightly. I’ve got to do a good job and do my due diligence and bring in the best possible coaches, support staff and people to surround this team with.”