Maryland football announced Tuesday that co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Brian Williams has been promoted to defensive coordinator, becoming the fourth coach to accept that role since coach Mike Locksley took over the program in 2019.
Williams will be replacing Brian Stewart, who is no longer on the team after serving as the defensive coordinator during the 2021 season.
The Terps originally planned to make Kevin Steele their defensive coordinator, but Steele, who verbally agreed to join Locksley’s staff, had an office in College Park and interacted with recruits, left days later for the same job at Miami.
Williams joined the staff in 2019 as an outside linebackers coach. He was the defensive play-caller during Maryland’s final two games of the season and will remain the defensive line coach.
“Brian Williams did a really good job calling it today and [Stewart] did a great job of helping organize it,” Locksley said after Maryland’s 54-10 victory over Virginia Tech in the Pinstripe Bowl. “We tried to keep it simple. It came down to our execution. We did a really good job of controlling the line of scrimmage, which is I think where it started. We did a good job on the back end with our eye control.”
Williams is regarded as one of the best recruiters in the country, ranking as the No. 6 recruiter in the nation and No. 2 in the Big Ten Conference during 2021, according to 247 Sports.
Williams is among a few changes to Maryland’s defensive coaching staff. Longtime SEC assistant coach Lance Thompson was named the inside linebackers coach, replacing Brawley Evans. Meanwhile, Wes Neighbors, a former Alabama safety and defensive assistant at University of Louisiana at Lafayette, will be the safeties coach, a role that belonged to Stewart.
Despite Maryland winning its first bowl game since 2010, the Terps had one of the worst defenses in the Big Ten, ranking 13th in points allowed (30.7) and 12th in total yards allowed (404.3).
The Terps also struggled to generate turnovers, ranking 13th in the conference in interceptions with six. Maryland gave up 40 or more points four times last season, including 66 points to Ohio State and 59 points to Michigan, which ended up playing in the College Football Playoff.
Maryland’s defense took some hits after the regular season, as defensive lineman Sam Okuayinonu, linebacker Lawtez Rogers and defensive backs Nick Cross and Jordan Mosely declared for the 2022 NFL draft, while linebackers Branden Jennings, Terrence Lewis and Deshawn Holt transferred.
However, the Terps have some key players returning. Senior defensive back Jakorian Bennett, defensive lineman Ami Finau and defensive lineman Greg Rose will use their extra year of eligibility to play another season in College Park.
Maryland will also have linebacker and West Virginia transfer VanDarius Cowan, as well as St. Frances linebacker Jaishawn Barham, one of the prized players from the Terps’ 2022 recruiting class.