WASHINGTON — Mike Locksley knows the task of rebuilding the Maryland football program will be a tall one, but the Towson University graduate is happy to be where he always wanted to wind up.
“Boy it sure feels good to be home, man,” Locksley said at the news conference introducing him as the 21st full-time head coach in program history. “It feels great to be back in the DMV.”
He called the Maryland post “the job I’ve wanted since I put on a whistle.”
Athletic Director Damon Evans said two characteristics drew his eye during the interview process: heart and humility. “These are the values that he will apply as he helps to develop our student-athletes to leaders in our community,” Evans said. “And we are excited — extremely excited — for how he will shape our program.”
Locksley is no stranger to College Park, having served as running backs coach under Ron Vanderlinden and Ralph Friedgen from 1998 to 2002 before serving as Randy Edsall’s offensive coordinator from 2012-15. Locksley was the school’s interim coach for six games in 2015 following Edsall’s firing, leading the Terps to a 1-5 mark.
He takes over a program that had to deal with the death of a player, teammate, fellow student and brother.
Jordan McNair’s death after suffering heatstroke in an offseason May workout cast a shadow over the program and university and will continue to do so. Locksley on Thursday thanked Jordan’s father, Marty McNair, for attending — their families have known each other since Locksley’s daughter attended the same high school as Jordan. Both graduated the same year and both signed national letters of intent the same day: McNair, to play football at Maryland; Kori Locksley, to play women’s soccer at Auburn.
Locksley, 48, comes to College Park while still preparing for the College Football Playoff as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. He was recently named the recipient of the Broyles Award, annually given to the top assistant in Division I college football (former Terps coach Ralph Friedgen captured the honor in 1999, when he was Georgia Tech’s offensive coordinator).
He said he’s learned a lot in three years with the Crimson Tide under coach Nick Saban: “Focus on the process, not the results. Don’t worry about gameday … let’s win every day and maximize every opportunity within your program.”
The new coach looks to rebuild a team that just finished its fourth consecutive losing season. “I want to create the right culture and environment, and winning will follow.” Locksley said. “We have one of the best areas in the country for talent, and we’re going to work our tails off to keep it right here.”
He has the tough task of competing in the Big Ten East, a conference that features college football royalty in Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, plus a Michigan State that has been just as successful since division play began. “It is one of the best leagues in all of college football — a tremendous challenge. But I also remember our first year here we beat some teams in that league. Michigan at Michigan. Having an opportunity to win at Penn State and win a big game there.” Locksley said.
“I know this — we’re excited about the challenge and the opportunity. If we keep the gates around the DMV and get the top players in the area to stay home, there’s nowhere in the country we can’t go and compete with the best.”
While he prepares Alabama for their College Football Playoff game against Oklahoma, Locksley will be busy constructing his coaching staff, finalizing his first recruiting class and establishing the foundation for a program looking to move on from a 2018 that will not soon be forgotten. Howard comes to College Park Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019.
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