Maryland football coach Michael Locksley satisfied with six recruits who sign letters of intent

New Maryland football coach Michael Locksley understood how difficult it was going to be to improve the program’s recruiting profile in the two weeks since he had been hired.

For that reason, Locksley seemed satisfied with the six players who signed Wednesday — the first day of the early signing period for football — with plans on filling out a 25-player class by February.

Five of the players are from the Baltimore-Washington area: Wise receiver Isaiah Hazel, Good Counsel offensive tackle Mason Lunsford, Edgewood cornerback Deonte Banks, Meade tight end Malik Jackson and “athlete” Lavonte Gater of Washington’s Ballou High, Locksley’s alma mater.

The only player from outside the area to sign Wednesday was Dino Tomlin, a wide receiver and kick returner from Pittsburgh who is the son of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

“Definitely was really happy with the guys we were able to sign today,” Locksley said in a teleconference. “These all are guys obviously that I know from this recruiting process. We’ve had guys who had made verbal commitments.

“The guys we signed today I did have personal relationships with, that I did know and had done research on and I had met. I think all six of these guys will make us better. They’re all meeting needs. As we know in the recruiting process, it’s more about filling needs than anything.”

Hazel, a four-star prospect from Upper Marlboro, was the first to officially sign. Hazel is the highest-ranked player to sign in a 2019 class that is currently ranked No. 81 nationally and last in the Big Ten. Hazel flipped to Maryland from West Virginia, where he had verbally committed, after Locksley was hired.

“Isaiah was actually a guy we started the recruiting process with and I had here at Alabama. He’d come down to campus this past summer, actually participated in one of our camps here,” Locksley said. “I spent probably the past two years recruiting him to Alabama.”

Locksley said that Hazel and his parents visited Maryland on an unofficial visit after the new coach’s introductory news conference in College Park on Dec. 6. Locksley flew back from Tuscaloosa, Ala., to have a two-hour meeting with Hazel and his family.

“I was able to lay out my plan for the University of Maryland and where we saw him fitting in,” Locksley said. “They left there, I think, feeling very comfortable that we would meet his academic needs, his football needs and his social needs. We were fortunate that we were able to get him signed.”

Locksley said that none of the players who signed Wednesday — all but Hazel are considered three-star prospects — will be enrolling in school for spring semester.

Several players who had verbally committed to the Terps before the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair on June 13 and the firing of former coach DJ Durkin on Oct. 31 will be among those Locksley will hope to keep in the class.

They include Jordan Houston, a running back from Flint Hill (Va.) who initially chose the Terps over Michigan and Michigan State, cornerback Tayvion Land of Virginia Beach, Va., outside linebacker Kameron Blount and defensive end Deshawn Holt, both of Waldorf, and quarterback David Summers of Trumbull, Conn.

Locksley said that after his responsibilities as Alabama offensive coordinator end — the top-seeded Crimson Tide play No. 4 seed Oklahoma in one of the College Football Playoff semifinals Dec. 29, with the championship game scheduled for Jan. 7 — he will return to College Park to finish recruiting.

“With the time we have until the next signing period [in early February], I feel very confident that we’ll make up some ground and fulfill all of our needs by the second signing period,” Locksley said.

Locksley said most of the time he spent at Maryland after his introductory news conference was meeting with “about 85 to 90 percent” of the current Maryland players while also trying to put together his staff.

“The first thing for me was to make sure I stabilized our roster,” Locksley said.

Much of that remains in limbo. Though no players have announced plans to transfer, it’s likely some will. The only coach known officially to be hired is former DeMatha head coach Elijah Brooks, who announced last week that he was leaving to coach the running backs at Maryland.

Locksley said he is not averse to the idea of filling some scholarships with junior college players and graduate transfers. The Terps will likely have several voids to fill on defense, the offensive line and possibly at quarterback.

“All those positions of need, especially coming in year one, if we have to use graduate transfers, junior college players, big-time high school seniors, they’re all going to be utilized to fill out this class,” Locksley said.

“The big thing going into it, the first year, I wanted to make sure that we’re not going to rush or have our backs up against the wall to meet this early signing period deadline because we want to make sure we’re able to evaluate every kid and know that they will have the opportunity to help us and improve our team.”

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
41°