Former Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith sat in the first row as Lee Hull was introduced as Morgan State's 19th head football coach on Thursday.
Hull, the Terps' receivers coach for the past six years, told a gathering of Bears players and administrators that he has experience fostering a "family" atmosphere.
Smith, juggling one of his nephews on his lap during the news conference, was the proof.
Smith, now with the Ravens, said he couldn't imagine not being there for Hull, 48, whom he regards as a "father figure."
"You looked at him as more than just a coach," said Smith, whose last Maryland season was 2010. "You looked at him as a family member, a father figure for a lot of us. I still talk to him just as much as I did when I was playing [for Maryland]. That's my guy."
Hull served under Maryland head coaches Ralph Friedgen and Randy Edsall.
During both head coaches' tenures, Hull made a habit of inviting the receivers to the family's home in Laurel. He said he hopes to foster the same sort of environment at Morgan State, which finished 5-7 last season (5-3, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference).
"We'd have all the [Terps] wide receivers over around a meal, around video games with my kids," said Hull's wife, Stacey, who attended the news conference.
The Hulls have three children — Alexander, 25, Jordan, 13, and Laila, 8.
"We'd have them [the players] be a part of our family — laying on the sofas, totally all over the house," Stacey Hull said. "We have to build that trust with them, that relationship."
Morgan State said in November that Donald Hill-Eley would not return as coach. The university allowed Hill-Eley's contract to expire after the 44-year-old coach went 59-76 in 12 years.
Morgan State is eager to improve its program's classroom performance. The team's Academic Progress Rate — which the NCAA uses to track players' paths to graduation — is low enough that the school is at risk for being banned from the postseason, athletic director Floyd Kerr said.
"These players will be student athletes first and foremost," Hull said Thursday.
Hull expects the Bears to run a variation of the spread offense.
"Basically the last three years at Maryland under [former offensive coordinator Gary] Crowton and under [current offensive coordinator Mike Locksle] we were spread, no-huddle teams," Hull said. "And that's exactly what we're going to do. When I played at Holy Cross, it was called run-and-shoot back then."
After playing wideout at Holy Cross, from 1984-87, Hull spent time with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. He then coached at two Massachusetts high schools, was a volunteer assistant with Winnipeg and an intern with the San Diego Chargers, and then held assistant coaching jobs at Holy Cross, Oregon State and Maryland.
Hull's contract with Morgan State was still being finalized Thursday and terms were not available.
Bears players were still seeking to learn more Thursday about their new coach.
"I pulled him up on Google and checked out the University of Maryland's page," said quarterback Seth Higgins, who will be a senior next year.
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