A New Start for Locksley

New Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley has only been here since Dec. 20th but has made a huge splash.

Mike Locksley was hired as Maryland's newest offensive coordinator on Dec. 20. Fast-forward to Jan. 4, as former Good Counsel star Zac Dancel announces his intention to follow his former head coach at New Mexico to College Park. One day later, Jan.5, four-star Good Counsel running back, Wes Brown, announces his decision to become a Terp during the 2012 Under Armour All-American game.

Were these surprising gets for the Terps? Of course. Was Locksley surprised. No. “I don't hide very often that I have an affinity for this area and the talent,” said Locksley during his time with the press Wednesday. “Because wherever I've been I've always recruited it and I really believe that there is a lot of talent in this area. Most of the talent that you see here typically has a big upside.”

Since his arrival in College Park nearly two months ago, Locksley has made a name for himself. After serving as the Terps' running backs coach and recruiting coordinator from 1997 to 2002, Locksley was an assistant on staffs at Florida and Illinois, before taking the head coaching position at New Mexico in 2009. Yet, two straight 1-11 seasons and a controversy surrounding Locksley led to a contract buyout.

“It's a new start for me,” said Locksley. “And I've alluded to this before. If all the so-called baggage or stuff were true, it'd be pretty hard for any place to hire me if you believed or if the things that were written, happened.” In September of 2011, a 19-year-old who claimed to be a New Mexico football recruit, was arrested on charges of DWI while driving a car registered to Locksley's wife and son.

Locksley will bring his new start and his new scheme to an offense desperate for change. “It's a combination of the one-back passing attack, the spread run game, as well as my pro-style background from my years with Ralph,” said Locksley of his offensive style. “As it continued to grow, it's the same offense, from a vernacular standpoint, that we ran at Florida with a guy like Rex Grossman.”

Speaking of quarterbacks, Locksley will come into a situation where there is no definite starter. Or is there. Multiple Twitter reports surfaced around 4 p.m. Wednesday stating that sophomore quarterback Danny O'Brien was going to transfer. Yet, the former ACC freshman of the year responded with a tweet of his own, saying, “Contrary to rumor, I am still a Terp.”

Despite the uncertainty surrounding O'Brien's situation, Locksley, who admittedly hasn't watched game tape since his interview with Maryland, likes what he sees. “They voluntarily have come up to talk, to kinda get a basis of what were doing on offense,” he said of O'Brien and C.J. Brown. “Both have a very high football I.Q.,” he noted. “The short time I've spent with both the guys, we start throwin' chalk and talkin' ball they both have football I.Q.'s …. Everytime I turn around one of them is up in the office and asking questions.”

Locksley will look to provide consistency for an offense that now has seen three different coordinators in the last three seasons. According to him, it all starts with getting the entire team on board. “Recruiting starts number one with recruiting the guys in your program,” said Locksley. “Because they're your allies. They're the guys that are out selling your program.”

Perhaps nobody on the Terps' staff has a talent for selling a program like their new offensive coordinator. When asked about his ability to get a hold on the local recruiting pipeline, Locksley referenced the Terps' 2001 Orange Bowl team, on which he served as recruiting coordinator. “When you look back to the success we had in my prior stop here, if you look down the roster of the starters in the Orange Bowl, there were quite a few from this area that were starters or major contributors and I know Randy is committed to recruiting this area.”

Although his late arrival in College Park meant he had little to do with most of the Terps' 2012 recruiting class, Locksley is still impressed with the players assembled. “I think the staff did a tremendous job,” said Locksley. “I walked into the door and we had, I wanna say 23 guys or 24 guys committed. For me, it was just a matter of assuring the offensive players that were committed that we were committed to doing things on offense that would allow them to be the players that we recruited them to be.”

The first two stops on this tour of reassuring the class were the two quarterbacks: Caleb Rowe and Perry Hills. “They both are talented quarterbacks,” said Locksley. “They both have a skill set that I feel we can build some things around.”

Yet, it's hard to deny that the real star of the recruiting class was one of the later additions in Wes Brown. “Having coached at a lot of different places, Wes Brown is a guy that I would recruit wherever I've been,” he said. “To be able to get Wes was a major, major get for us, in my opinion, because he has the skill set to come in and play right away.”

For now though, Locksley has three goals heading into the spring: identify the playmakers, implement the base offense and improve at running the football. For some, that may seem like a lot to do in such a short time frame, but Locksley isn't concerned. “My family's not here yet, so I got a lot of time on my hands,” he said.

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