Maryland football coach Mike Locksley said during his news conference at Big Ten media day on Thursday that he has developed a specific mantra for his players to follow this season.
“No BCEs,” Locksley said. “No bitching, no complaining, no excuses.”
Locksley’s mantra originated after enduring a rocky 2020 season where the Terps had three games canceled because of COVID-19 and dealt with several players testing positive or suffering injuries. Now that the team is able to have a traditional offseason, Locksley wants his players to know it’s time to take the next step.
“We’re in that phase of our program where there’s no more excuses,” said Locksley, who is entering his third season as head coach and has a 5-12 record after going 2-3 in 2020. “We’re not young and I’m not new. Let’s figure out how to get our job done.”
Locksley sees potential throughout the roster, but said it’s time for his team to display it on the field. Maryland will be returning 85% of its total team production from last season. It’s the highest total returning production in the Big Ten, and the Terps also welcomed the 18th best recruiting class in the nation, while returning all seven All-Big Ten honorees from a year ago.
“It’s time for us to step up as a program, and I expect us to do just that,” Locksley said. “It’s time for us to stop talking about potential and actually go out and do it.”
Name, image and likenesses
Locksley mentioned that athletes benefiting financially from their name, image and likenesses is long overdue, and he is happy for his players.
“Being located where we are, hopefully our players are able to take full advantage of all these opportunities that being in the DMV provides them,” Locksley said.
Locksley mentioned the team has done programs over the summer to educate players on balancing endorsement opportunities with football and class work. “We have regulations in place that won’t allow them to schedule things when they have school or football,” he said.
In an interview with Big Ten Network’s Dave Revsine, junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa mentioned that he lets his parents handle anything regarding NIL while he focuses on school and football.
Senior wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr. told Revsine that NIL opportunities are changing people’s lives.
“This NIL stuff has really given me an opportunity to see what’s more out there and what I can really do,” said Demus Jr., who signed with Sports and Entertainment Group, a Washington-based sports entertainment agency that helps athletes with NIL opportunities.
Locksley told The Baltimore Sun that freshman inside linebacker Terrence Lewis, who had ACL surgery in January, is expected to miss the start of training camp.
“He’s kind of going through some noncontact stuff,” Locksley said. “Expect him to hopefully be back sometime during the season.”
ESPN listed Lewis as a five-star recruit and the 10th best player in the 2021 class. Lewis is Maryland’s third highest ranked signee in program history.
Wide receivers have potential
Locksley had high praise for Maryland’s wide receiver group, saying “from top to bottom, it’s one of the best [groups] that I’ve been a part of.”
Maryland’s wideouts consist of sophomore Rakim Jarrett, Demus and junior Jeshaun Jones. Demus led the Terps in every receiving category last season, as he totaled 365 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 24 receptions. Demus caught a touchdown in four straight games to close out the 2020 campaign, which was the longest streak in the country.
Jones, who started in four games after missing 2019 with a torn ACL, had a 103-yard performance against Minnesota last year. Meanwhile, Jarrett, the nation’s second best receiver coming out of high school, recorded 252 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week after posting 144 yards against Penn State in November.
“Potential is one thing and executing and playing to that level is another,” Locksley said. “We got to go prove ourselves that we are a good group and those guys got to make plays.”
Locksley said that Tagovailoa has shown the signs of being a great playmaker, but he wants him to be more consistent.
“I expect Taulia to be very similar to what all of us will do this year, and that’s to take the next step,” Locksley said.
Tagovailoa, who was recently named to the Maxwell Award watch list, threw for 1,011 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions last season and flashed his star potential when he recorded 453 total yards against Minnesota.
Locksley believes a full offseason will help his signal-caller take the next step.
“You’re looking at a quarterback that didn’t get a chance to go through spring ball, didn’t get a chance to go through summer training with his receivers, and was thrown into the fire against Northwestern [that] played for the Big Ten championship,” Locksley said. “So, as a first year starter, I thought he handled it admirably.”
The former Alabama quarterback also had moments where he struggled, such as the three-interception performance against Indiana and only throwing for 94 yards in the season-opening loss to Northwestern.
“As I said many times, the game was on us and on me as a coach,” said Locksley, referring to last year’s season opener. “We didn’t necessarily give him the best opportunity to have success with how we game planned for him in that game.”
When asked about COVID protocols for the upcoming season, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said it will be a “decentralized” decision-making process.
Warren mentioned that individual schools will finalize and submit policies and procedures in early August before the league releases overall guidelines.
“We will have that done prior to our first game 37 days away from today,” he said.