But while many top programs sign a significant portion of their recruits during this three-day early signing window, which was instituted last year, the Terrapins have so far announced just six players for their class of 2019.
During a conference call Wednesday afternoon, Locksley acknowledged the time constraints and placed emphasis on the next signing period.
“I thought with the six we signed today and with the time that we have from now until the next signing period, I feel very confident that we’ll make up some ground and be able to fulfill all of our needs by the second signing period,” he said.
Players have until Friday to sign letters-of-intent, or they can wait until the traditional National Signing Day on Feb. 6.
Isaiah Hazel, a four-star wide receiver from Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.), and Mason Lunsford, a three-star offensive lineman from Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), both received offers from Locksley and signed Wednesday. Hazel stands as Maryland’s only four-star player out of 11 who are either verbally committed or have signed.
Locksley met Hazel when Locksley was recruiting for Alabama, and the two had a good connection, Hazel said. Once Locksley stepped into his role with the Terps, Maryland became an even more attractive choice for Hazel, who had previously committed to West Virginia.
After Locksley arrived in College Park, Locksley met with Hazel and his family for a couple of hours, outlining how the school could serve him academically and athletically.
“I feel like we’re going to accomplish a lot,” Hazel said after his signing ceremony at Wise. “I think we’ll win the Big Ten championship, and we’ve got a lot of weapons to win it.”
Maryland’s one surprise Wednesday came with Malik Jackson’s decision to play for the Terps. Jackson, a three-star tight end from Meade High (Fort Meade, Md.), had previously committed to Connecticut. Jackson is the highest-ranked tight end in Maryland, according to 247 Sports.
The Terps also signed wide receiver Dino Tomlin (Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh), the son of Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin, as well as defensive backs Deonte Banks (Edgewood High in Edgewood, Md.) and Lavonte Gater (Ballou High in the District). All three committed before Locksley’s arrival.
Five of the six signees are from the DMV area. But Tomlin, the lone out-of-state signee, also has ties to the program. His uncle, Ed Tomlin, played for the Terps.
“As I said when I took the job, keeping the best local players will be the foundation of our program,” Locksley said.
In addition to recruiting high schoolers, Locksley said Maryland will also explore options from junior colleges and through graduate transfers. Locksley said he anticipates signing a full class in 2019.
Late last week, Locksley returned to Alabama to fulfill his duties as offensive coordinator while the Crimson Tide prepares for the College Football Playoff. Even when he was in College Park for about a week, he had to work toward building a staff and had to meet individually with all current players, in addition to his recruiting efforts.
“The first thing for me was to make sure I stabilized our current roster,” Locksley said, noting that some players had entered their names in the NCAA transfer portal.
The university confirmed Tuesday evening that former North Carolina defensive coordinator John Papuchis and former Rutgers cornerbacks coach Cory Robinson are on staff at Maryland, but the athletic department has yet to officially announce the hires. Both have been recruiting for Maryland, and Lunsford posted a picture with Papuchis when he committed. Elijah Brooks, the former head coach at Washington area high school power DeMatha, confirmed last week that he had also joined the staff.
When Locksley became Maryland’s head football coach on Dec. 4, he inherited a 2019 signing class ranked last in the Big Ten, according to 247 Sports, after recruiting had mostly stagnated during a chaotic 2018 season.
Controversy enveloped the football program in the wake of the June death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair and the ensuing reports of an abusive culture that festered under DJ Durkin, the coach at the time. The university placed Durkin on administrative leave Aug. 11 and reinstated him Oct. 30. He was fired the next day following public outcry. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada led the team through the season, but the future of the staff remained uncertain.
— Deonte Banks, three-star cornerback from Edgewood High (Edgewood, Md.)
— Lavonte Gater, three-star athlete from Ballou High (Washington, D.C.)
— Isaiah Hazel, four-star wide receiver from Wise High (Upper Marlboro, Md.)
— Malik Jackson, three-star tight end from Meade High (Fort Meade, Md.)
— Mason Lunsford, three-star offensive lineman from Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
— Dino Tomlin, three-star wide receiver from Shady Side Academy (Pittsburgh)