During the third quarter of the Ravens’ preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night, Maryland football coach Mike Locksley continued an annual tradition that has warmed the hearts of many since he took over the program in 2019.
With Locksley and the entire Terps team standing at the corner of the field, he awarded senior walk-on punters Anthony Pecorella and Colton Spangler with full scholarships, leading to huge applause from the crowd at M&T Bank Stadium.
“This is our right of pilgrimage,” Locksley said to the fans.
Last year, running back Challen Faamatau received a scholarship from Locksley during the Ravens’ preseason matchup against the New Orleans Saints as Faamatau took in his first NFL game. Linebacker Greg-China Rose, who walked on to the program in 2020, also earned a scholarship last season, but he received his at the team’s facility with NBA star Kevin Durant making the big announcement.
Locksley couldn’t continue his tradition in 2020 because the preseason was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2019, former linebacker Bruce Miller earned a scholarship during the Ravens’ preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, with the team getting a chance to watch former Maryland defensive back Darnell Savage in action.
On Thursday night, the Terps caught a glimpse of a pair of former teammates turned Titans rookies in tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo and defensive tackle Sam Okuayinonu. Okonkwo was a fourth-round pick in this year’s NFL draft after four seasons in College Park. Okuayinonu signed with Tennessee as an undrafted free agent.
As Okonkwo and Okuayinonu walked into the locker room during halftime, the Terps were there to greet them and shout words of encouragement.
Pecorella, a Malverne, New York, resident, has appeared in 28 games while making 17 starts. In 2021, Pecorella punted 28 times for 1,232 yards for an average of 44.0 yards per punt while pinning 11 punts inside the 20-yard line. Pecorella is currently third in program history in career punting average (42.4 yards per punt).
Spangler, a Chesapeake graduate from Pasadena, has made 30 appearances with 12 starts. He registered 29 punts for 1,320 yards for an average of 45.52 yards per punt, the highest single-season punting average in program history.