Alabama's Mike Locksley, Michigan's Pep Hamilton among top candidates for Maryland football coach

Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley and Michigan assistant head coach Pep Hamilton have emerged as the front runners for the Maryland football head coaching vacancy, a source familiar with the situation said Friday.

Locksley, whose ties to the Maryland program go back more than 20 years, will be interviewed after the top-ranked Crimson Tide play in the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday. Hamilton, whose regular season ended with a 62-39 loss to Ohio State last week, will also be interviewed.

Matt Canada, who served as the Terps offensive coordinator and interim coach this past season, interviewed for the job this week and is still in the running. He led Maryland after former coach DJ Durkin was placed on administrative leave in mid-August and after Durkin was fired Oct. 31.

Maryland could make a decision by the middle of next week, according to the source.

The 48-year-old Locksley served under three different coaches during his career in College Park: as running backs coach under Ron Vanderlinden in 1997, as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator under Vanderlinden and later Ralph Friedgen from 1998 through 2002, and as offensive coordinator under Randy Edsall from 2012 through 2015.

Locksley also served as interim coach of the Terps after Edsall was fired midway though the 2015 season. Despite the fact that Locksley might have brought four-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. with him had he been retained on a permanent basis, former athletic director Kevin Anderson hired Durkin, then a relatively unknown defensive coordinator at Michigan.

Locksley, a finalist for the Broyles Award given annually to college football’s top assistant coach, has previously served as head coach at New Mexico. After the Lobos went 1-11 in both 2009 and 2010, they started the 2011 season with four straight losses and Locksley was fired.

Under Edsall, Locksley, a former Towson State defensive back, helped with the team’s lackluster recruiting. The Terps went from being ranked 50th nationally in recruiting to 37th shortly after Lockley arrived in 2012, according to 247Sports.com — largely because of the signing of five-star wide receiver Stefon Diggs — but Maryland never gained much traction. The Terps’ Class of 2015 was ranked 47th in Edsall’s final season, which finished with Maryland going 1-5 with Locksley as the interim coach.

At New Mexico in 2009, Locksley had an altercation with a former New Mexico assistant. Locksley served a 10-day suspension and apologized to the assistant and to Lobos fans. Also in 2009, a former administrative assistant filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing Locksley of age discrimination and sexual harassment. Locksley countered with a defamation lawsuit. The complaint was later dropped.

The 44-year-old Hamilton joined Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s staff — where Maryland found Durkin — in January 2017 after serving as associate head coach and quarterbacks coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2016. He also worked a little more than two seasons as offensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts from 2013 to 2015. A former assistant under Harbaugh at Stanford, Hamilton was mentioned early on as a candidate at Maryland when Durkin was hired in 2015. He is a graduate of and former assistant coach at Howard University — Maryland’s opening game opponent in 2019.

Maryland’s next coach would likely try to retain one or both of the top recruiters on the current staff, wide receivers coach and associate head coach Chris Beatty and cornerbacks coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, who had a close relationship with Locksley when Abdul-Rahim served as head coach at Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington and sent several players to Maryland.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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