Mike Locksley always has tried to play one role with his four children: dad.
The Maryland football team's offensive coordinator has been successful in that regard with his daughter, Kori, an Olympic Development Program soccer player who already has eight Division I scholarship offers after her freshman year at Olney's Good Counsel High.
His three sons have been a different story.
Having already coached his two oldest in college — Michael Jr. at Illinois and Meiko at New Mexico, each for two seasons — Locksley now is weighing the possibility of coaching his youngest son.
But when it comes to Kai Locksley, he has to avoid a role that has brought him much acclaim in his coaching career: recruiter. Under NCAA rules, Locksley, like all college coaches, is not allowed to publicly discuss Kai Locksley's recruitment until he signs a national letter of intent. He is allowed to attend his son's games as a parent during recruiting "dead periods," a privilege not afforded other coaches. And when he talks to his son about college, it as a parent, not as a recruiter.
"I never put pressure on them to play sports, but my wife would say to me, 'Just the fact of you being a coach and them wanting to please you puts that added pressure on them,' " Locksley said Wednesday at the family's Howard County home. "It's been a little tough to navigate.
"I never pushed. I was never that dad that was getting them up at 6 a.m. and saying, 'Let's get out and throw, let's get out and run.' I always told them, 'If you want that help, I'm here.' Once they reached the ninth and 10th grade, that's when they started asking for help and training. It's fun to be a dad, though."
The balancing act has become increasingly difficult now that Kai Locksley, a 6-foot-4 dual-threat quarterback considered among the best high school prospects in the country going into his senior year at Gilman, has listed Maryland among the six schools he is considering.
"I told Randy I'd like to step away. I'll be the dad, you need to recruit Mom. She handles all the academic stuff. She's been the one that does the day-to-day things, getting him to practice. I'm busy taking care of other people's kids," Mike Locksley said.
Mother knows best
According to Gilman coach Biff Poggi, Edsall has taken the lead role in recruiting Kai Locksley, with help from new wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell.
Poggi said the experience of coaching his three sons at Gilman, then watching each go on to play Division I football, makes him believe Kia Locksley could play a major role in her son's recruitment.
"She's weighing whether it's a healthy situation for a child to be coached by his father, whether it's a healthy situation for a father to coach a child, especially in such a high-focused program," Poggi said.
"She's not caught up in the middle of recruiting that the boy is, and she's not caught up in the pressure of recruiting that Mike is. She has a very clear picture of what's best for both people who she loves."
Kia Locksley has been more involved in Kai's recruitment than his father, taking him on the majority of his unofficial visits, including one to Maryland.
"At this juncture, my son is a priority," Kia Locksley said. "I try to insulate him a little bit from everything else so that he can make just an informed decision, no pressure. Social media puts a lot of pressure on him. Mike and I have been married for 22 years. I feel like he'll be there [regardless of the decision]. I try to protect my son, first and foremost."
Mike Locksley planned an out-of-town recruiting trip of his own for the day Kia and Kai were in College Park. Yet since Edsall offered Kai his first Division I scholarship, in September 2012, the possibility of him playing for his father and the Terps has grown only more real.
It has surfaced not only on social media, where Kai recently announced on Twitter a short list of schools that also includes defending national champion Florida State, as well as perennial powers Ohio State, Oregon and Texas, but also when the Lockleys gather with other family for Sunday dinner.
It could happen at the family's annual Father's Day get-together this weekend. On two previous gatherings, Kai Lockley's grandmother told him: 'Just go play for your dad, like the rest of them."
Kia Locksley said that, aside from an occasional mention by other family members, discussion of the pros and cons of Kai Locksley's going to Maryland "we pretty much ignore — for now. It's there. We we know it's there, and that has a different set of issues we need to discuss compared to the other schools."
Kai Locksley, an All-Metro second-team pick last fall, said he didn't begin to think much about recruiting until after he finished his junior year at Gilman, his first as the team's starting quarterback after succeeding current Terp Shane Cockerille.
"Honestly, I didn't really start paying attention to the process until this spring. I took it as it came, I focused on the season and what I needed to do better with myself," he said, sitting in his father's study after returning from a summer workout. "Once the season was over, it kind of hit me: Now I've got to start making some decisions about what I want to do."
Pros and cons
There is a part of Kai Locksley that, like many high school students going into their senior year, wants to go away for college, to "kind of build your own name". But, at the same time, he realizes "how good a situation it could be if everything pans out [at Maryland] and works the way it should."
Kai Locksley said he has told Edsall "there's a bunch of great things that could come with it, but there could be some complications and stuff that needs to be worked out." He added that Maryland would be on his list even if his father weren't the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
"Just it being your hometown school and being able to play in front of all your family and friends, it's something that's attractive and it's something that a lot of kids would like to do," the younger Locksley said.
Like his father, Kai Locksley has his own balancing act, trying to balance the roles of son and highly sought-after recruit.
"It makes you see things easier in terms of the kind of schools and what they're about and what the coaches are about … so he's able to give some good insight," he said. "In terms of one of the schools that's recruiting me and where my dad is coaching, that complicates it. It's a difficult situation, having to play for your father and be under him. You don't really get a dad and a coach."
Though the Locksleys are not quite ready to deal with the decision in depth — right now, it's often the 500-pound Terrapin in the room — Kai Locksley said it already has strengthened their father-son relationship.
"I have to reach out to him and he has to reach out to me, so we're kind of forced to talk about it sometimes when it is brought up,'" Kai Locksley said. "As far as conversations go, it's like: 'You do these things well. … I've watched you since you were in sixth grade playing quarterback. I know what you're good at and what you need to work at.' "
Playing for Dad
Kai Locksley has talked with his two older brothers, each of whom had different experiences playing for their father.
Michael Locksley Jr. played defense and special teams on Illinois' 2008 Rose Bowl team, for which his father served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Meiko Locksley came to New Mexico in 2010 as a safety after starting his career as a quarterback at Youngstown State. In 2011, he watched his father get fired as head coach.
"Being that me and my father would be on the field, going to defense was a good fit for me," said Meiko Locksley, now finishing up his studies at Towson. "I've seen people try to do it [being a quarterback playing for his father], and it didn't work."
Cody Hawkins, who played quarterback at Colorado when his father, Dan, coached the Buffaloes, helped the team win six games as a redshirt freshman in 2007. But Colorado never won as many games under Dan Hawkins, who was fired in 2010, midway through his son's senior season.
The younger Hawkins said their relationship changed during his college career.
"Sometimes you can be a great father, and you can be a great football coach, but I don't know if you can be both simultaneously," Hawkins said. "But being part of the program, I have such a stronger relationship with my dad. To watch him day in and day out, the way he treated people made me proud. That being said, there's a lot of BS you have to deal with" from outside the program.
Mike Locksley is aware of the potential pitfalls that come from coaching his sons, especially after a bad game.
"All of a sudden, it's not just that Locks can't call plays, but [the son] stinks, too," Locksley, 44, said. "That's when the Papa Bear in me [came] out."
Looking back, Locksley said he is not surprised that his two older sons wanted to play for him. They have memories of many of Locksley's players joining the family at church or of coming to their house to hang out. Though much younger, Kai Locksley has some of the same memories.
"I think each and every one of them grew up wanting to play for their dad. They've seen the relationships I've had," Locksley said of his sons. "Meiko once said to me, 'I want to have the same relationship as [former Florida quarterback] Chris Leak had with you or [former Illinois quarterback] Juice Williams.' We are a pretty tight family."
With a 500-pound Terrapin lurking about the house.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun