College Sports

Maryland football players voice support for Mike Locksley to stay with program

Maryland interim coach Mike Locksley shouts as he walks the sidelines during the first half against Rutgers.

During his time as Maryland's offensive coordinator, Mike Locksley ended each of his midweek news conferences in a similar, light-hearted fashion.

"Thank you very much," Locksley would intone in a deep-voiced Elvis impersonation.


After he was named interim coach Oct. 11 when Randy Edsall was fired, Locksley took on a more a serious tone, with fewer Elvis references, as he tried to snap a lengthening losing streak. But when Locksley wrapped up his news conference after Maryland's wild, 46-41 comeback victory over Rutgers on Saturday, that familiar charm returned and he closed his remarks in familiar fashion.

And as he walked out of the defensive backs meeting room in Rutgers' Hale Center, Locksley left with one more message in his deep baritone: "Elvis has left the building."


Locksley's future at Maryland is unclear after he went 1-5 as interim coach. It's possible that Saturday afternoon was his final game on the Terps coaching staff. But with his local recruiting prowess and wealth of experience in the area, he could be a key piece of the staff for whoever is hired as Maryland's new coach. Locksley declined to address his future during the past seven weeks, and it was the same Saturday.

"We'll worry about that when that time comes," Locksley said. "We're not going to look too far forward in the future. We're not going to worry about what happened in the past. I'm going to enjoy today. That's how I live now. I enjoy the present. I enjoy what the gift of today brings us, and that's what it's about for me today. I'm going to have a nice bus ride home, going to enjoy it."

Maryland players think Locksley should be involved in the program moving forward. The 45-year-old was involved in recruiting many Terps players, and he has relationships with them from working as the team's offensive coordinator since 2012. When he took over in mid-October, many players voiced their support for him, and in interviews last week many players continued to do so.

"I feel like he definitely should deserve a look," defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson said last week. "He's a great guy. I can vouch for him. He really cares about the players here. He brings a lot of energy. He's a young guy, so he's very relatable to the players, too. I feel like he should get a shot. The season didn't go as planned, but definitely, you can see some change. The hump we need to get over, it's an execution hump. Guys are playing for him and playing hard, so we'll see what happens."

When Locksley took over, he said he planned to keep most of the program's structure left by Edsall but with some "tweaks.". Locksley shifted the philosophy of the team on offense, defense and special teams to be more aggressive, and he also encouraged his players to have fun and play loose.

He wanted the Terps to play football "in its purest form."

"As you can see, we've been having more fun on the field, just been able to work harder for everyone on the team, even for him and the coaching staff," wide receiver D.J. Moore said.

Locksley worked to get more young players involved in the game plan to improve their practice habits. He assigned roles to them in certain situations that they could focus on and be ready for. Defensive lineman Ty Tucker, a junior who had appeared in only the season opener before Locksley became interim coach, played in the final five games of the season on the field goal unit. In Maryland's loss to Michigan State, he blew up a fake fielg-goal attempt.


Against Rutgers, Maryland's two leading receivers were freshman Jahrvis Davenport (seven catches, 89 yards) and junior DeAndre Lane (four catches, 63 yards), a pair of players who made little impact early on.

The most players Edsall used in a game was 52 against Richmond and South Florida, Maryland's first two wins of the season. Locksley played at least 55 in his six games as interim coach.

A Washington, D.C., native who attended Ballou High School, Locksley is well-connected, and he's regarded as one of the area's top recruiters. He was the lead recruiter for former Maryland star Stefon Diggs, and he helped get current defensive standouts Yannick Ngakoue and Jermaine Carter Jr. to stay in the area. Locksley has also helped construct a 2016 recruiting class that features standout Bullis quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who made an official visit to Florida over the weekend.

Locksley, who coached at Maryland in the late 1990s and early 2000s under former coaches Ron Vanderlinden and Ralph Friedgen, is well known among former players, many of whom were quick to voice their support for the interim coach.

"I'm not sure what's going to happen today or what's going to happen the rest of the season, but I've been saying it for years: Once Coach Locks gets a head coaching job at Maryland … he's a perfect guy for the job. I think he can take us to the top," former Maryland running back LaMont Jordan said before Locksley's interim coaching debut against Penn State.

Maryland has been tight-lipped about its search, and with a number of other jobs opening Sunday — including regional rival Virginia and Big Ten Conference East division foe Rutgers — there's still a number of different directions the program could turn.


And though they've voiced their support for him, the Terps understand that the decision is ultimately athletic director Kevin Anderson's to make.

"I'm just a player. I'm going to play for whoever the coach is," Carter said. "But definitely, coach Locksley, he's a guy that recruited me, so it would be nice to have him stay on the staff. He's a local guy like myself, so we kind of connect easily. It would be nice for him to be the head coach, but I'm a player. I'm going to play with whoever the next coach is going to be."

It remains to be seen whether Locksley's exit from his postgame news conference Saturday was his final one as a member of Maryland's coaching staff. If it was, Locksley made clear he would reflect on his seven weeks in charge of the program fondly.

A reporter asked Locksley about his "range of emotions" while officials were measuring for a first down and reviewing the spot after Maryland's fourth-and-1 stop that sealed the victory over Rutgers. Locksley provided a window to his philosophy as an interim coach, and moving forward.

"That's life," Locksley said. "That's life. One day, you've got a great day. You come into work and you make a lot of money and you make an impact in a kid's life, and then the next day, you find out the dog ran away and the kid didn't do well in school.

"You know what? You just continue to press on, and that's the type of personality I have. I'm a byproduct of Southeast Washington, D.C., and I lived the dream here the last six weeks leading this program."