– For new offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, returning to Maryland – where he previously served as an assistant to two Terps' head coaches – feels like renewal.
After a trying stint on and off the field as New Mexico's head coach , Locksley hopes to renew his bonds with the parts of the game – the play calling, the interaction with his quarterbacks – that head coaches typically must delegate to others. He hopes to fall in love with the sport all over again.
"For me, it's welcome to be back to having a relationship with the quarterbacks and the offense, implementing, installing, calling plays. That's what coaching is about," Locksley said . "Pure football."
On Wednesday, Locksley discussed his offense ("multiple pro-style."), the signing of highly-touted running back Wes Brown (a "major get for us"), and the challenges facing a program that hopes to rebound from a 2-10 season in Randy Edsall's first season as head coach. Locksley replaces Gary Crowton, who ran a hurry-up spread offense and lasted just one year.
Locksley, 42, who wore a red Maryland pullover and dark slacks, looks much the same as he did when he served -- from 1997-2002 -- as an assistant to former coaches Ralph Friedgen and Ron Vanderlinden. Among the Terps he coached were running backs Chris Downs, Bruce Perry and Lamont Jordan, who each gained more than 1,000 yards.
"The ability to run the football is going to be something that we have to be able to do," Locksley said. "Having coached at a lot of different places, Wes Brown (Good Counsel) is a guy that I would recruit wherever I've been. To be able to get Wes is a major, major get for us in my opinion because he has the skill set to come in and play right away. He has the physical size."
Brown was among 24 members of the recruiting class that Maryland introduced last week.
Locksley, who played at Towson, was 2-26 at New Mexico but has a reputation as a skilled recruiter. His recruiting territory includes the District of Columbia – he is a Washington native – as well as Prince George's County, southern Maryland and parts of Florida. Edsall said Locksley's recruiting ties and ability were among the reasons Maryland hired him.
Locksley suggested that his hiring – announced by Edsall in December -- amounts to a new start on a personal level as well. He said he was glad to get all the New Mexico headlines about his alleged conduct behind him.
At New Mexico in 2009, Locksley had an altercation with a former assistant. Locksley served a 10-day suspension and apologized to the assistant and to Lobos fans. Also in 2009, a former administrative assistant filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing Locksley of age discrimination and sexual harassment. Locksley countered with a defamation lawsuit. He was dismissed in September shortly after a friend of Locksley's son was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in a car registered to Locksley's family.
Maryland said it fully vetted Locksley – who is guaranteed $500,000 in salary and other compensation -- and is fully comfortable with him.
Locksley seemed to anticipate being asked about his past. He laughed when asked if he had put all that "stuff" behind him.
"What do you want to call it? Stuff," he said, playfully.
"It's a new start for me, and I've alluded to this before. If any of the things were true, I wouldn't have collected every penny from the University of New Mexico. It would probably be tough for Maryland to hire a guy that did any of the things that allegedly I did," Locksley said.
"The people that have known Mike Locksley for the 23 years of my coaching, it'd be tough for them to believe a lot of the stuff that's been written or said," he said.
Locksley complimented quarterbacks Danny O'Brien and C.J. Brown on their "high football IQs."
"Danny's a very talented quarterback," Locksley said. "I think he's had some success here in both systems -- whether it was two years ago in the West Coast, pro-style stuff and then last year he had some success in certain games in the spread system."
O'Brien has long been weighing whether to return for next season. "Contrary to rumor, I am still a Terp," the quarterback tweeted Wednesday without saying anything more.
Maryland lost its last eight games last season and also will have a new defensive coordinator, Brian Stewart, who was hired from the University of Houston.
"When you're coming from a 2-10 season typically there will be some vacancies for early playing time because obviously you didn't get the job done," Locksley said. "For me, this isn't new. We've done some of this before at other places I've been where you've had to recruit coming off of losing seasons."
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