When he joined Ron Vanderlinden's Maryland staff as wide receivers coach in 2000, James Franklin was a 28-year-old working on the early part of a coaching career that would lead to a notable rise through the profession.
During that early part of his career, Franklin turned to Maryland's 31-year-old running backs coach Mike Locksley and forged a professional relationship that lasted through both of their careers.
In Saturday's Maryland-Penn State game, the two former assistants will square off on opposite sidelines, with Franklin leading the Nittany Lions and Locksley leading the Terps for the first time as interim coach.
"I've got a ton of respect for Mike," Franklin said Tuesday. "Early in my career, going to the University of Maryland, Mike and really his family kind of took me in and kind of embraced me and kind of showed me the ropes in that area. I've got a lot of respect for Mike."
Franklin and Locksley both departed Maryland before returning some years later. Franklin left after the 2004 season to serve as the wide receivers coach for the Green Bay Packers for a season and as the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator at Kansas State for two seasons.
In 2008, Franklin returned to join Ralph Friedgen's staff, where he served as assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He was viewed as the "coach-in-waiting" behind Friedgen and helped lead an offense in which quarterback Danny O'Brien won ACC Rookie of the Year in 2010.
After a three-year stint at Vanderbilt, Franklin took over in State College, Pa., before the 2014 season.
"James has always been a real enthusiastic guy," Locksley said. "He's a guy that's been very passionate from the times that we've worked together. Obviously, from afar, I've seen him, how's matured and grown as a coach -and the success he's had as a head coach. I've got a lot of respect for the job that he's done."
Locksley's path after leaving Maryland included stints as an assistant on Ron Zook's staff at Florida and later as offensive coordinator for Zook at Illinois before serving as New Mexico's coach for two-plus seasons.
Locksley returned to become Maryland's offensive coordinator under Randy Edsall before the 2012 season and he was elevated to interim coach after Edsall's firing less than two weeks ago.
Now, the former assistants are set to meet as head coaches.
"I've got a lot of respect for Mike and how he goes about his business," Franklin said. "I've known his wife and his kids since they were little. It's amazing seeing them going on now and playing college sports and things like that. It's crazy to me to think about it."
Other notes for Saturday's Penn State-Maryland game:
>> Maryland's captains will be running back Wes Brown (offense), defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson (defense) and cornerback Will Likely (special teams).
>> Safety Anthony Nixon (American) and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (Maryland) will be the team's flag bearers.