COLLEGE PARK — Since DJ Durkin has taken over as Maryland's coach, he's been clear that he won't pigeonhole the Terps into one kind of team with one kind of offense and one kind of defense. Durkin wants the team at his first head coaching gig to be well-rounded and able to adjust, and both offensive coordinator Walt Bell and defensive coordinator Scott Shafer have echoed that sentiment.
So the hiring of running backs coach Anthony Tucker, who followed Bell from Arkansas State, appears to fit that mold as well.
"He brings a lot more to the table than just being a running backs coach," Bell said. "He's the guy that prepares us for blitzes and at the end of the day he brings a lot of familiarity to the run game and our protection schemes. Obviously he's going to be a guy that allows us to have a run game. He's going to be the bridge between the offensive line coach and myself. He's one more guy that knows how to coach transition tempo, one more guy that can help us get our message to the kids. To have him here is a huge deal. He's a great recruiter and he works hard."
Tucker spent three seasons at Arkansas State, including the past two as running backs coach. With star quarterback Fredi Knighten battling injuries this season, the Red Wolves were one of the most successful rushing teams in the nation in 2015 with 231.3 yards per game on the ground, a figure that ranked 15th nationally. Three Arkansas State running backs gained at least 600 yards in 2015.
Tucker has previous coaching experience at Idaho State, Colorado and Lakewood (Calif.) High School. He played wide receiver at Fresno State and in NFL Europe, and he was on the New York Giants practice squad in 2000.
Rising sophomore Ty Johnson is Maryland's leading returning running back with 250 yards and three touchdowns. Wes Brown, who would be a senior in 2016, was suspended indefinitely in November and finished the season with 317 yards and three touchdowns.
Tucker has already hit the recruiting trail locally. Last week, he visited three-star running back commit Jake Funk at Damascus High School to introduce himself and get to know Funk, who is enrolling early and will participate in spring practice.
Funk was impressed with Tucker in their brief meeting and is looking forward to being coached by him.
"He's a really good guy," Funk said. "He's very detail-oriented. He's told me he's not a yelling coach, but when he does yell, you know something serious has got to change. He believes in hard work and he believes in investing your time into getting a return for it."
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