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By Brandy L. Simms @bls1969
The news of Mike Locksley’s hiring sent shockwaves throughout the DMV and beyond.
The University of Maryland last week introduced the local product as its new head football coach and supporters rejoiced from all around.
“People outside the DMV won’t get it,” said ESPN anchor and Montgomery County native Scott Van Pelt, a Sherwood High School and University of Maryland graduate, “but people from there absolutely will. Especially his former Terp players. Unrivaled local respect among local high school coaches, he can help heal and unite the faction like no other. Welcome home, Lox.”
John Kelley, who guided Quince Orchard to a state championship this year, was also happy with the decision.
“I think it’s great for Maryland football,” said Kelley, a former intern with the Maryland football program. “Coach Locks is what Maryland needs right now. He will do an outstanding job.”
Locksley served as Maryland’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2012-15 and also had a head coaching stint at New Mexico from 2009-11. A Towson University product, Locksley has also had coaching stints at Illinois and Florida but inherits a Maryland program that finished 5-7 this year.
“I want to create the right culture and environment, and winning will follow,” said Locksley. “We have one of the best areas in the country for talent, and we’re going to work our tails off to keep it right here. Football has opened so many doors for me, providing me with role models and mentors, friendships and people who have looked out for me. Being a coach is my opportunity to pay it forward.”
Locksley, a D.C. native, inherits a program that has struggled in recent times. The Terrapins failed to qualify for a bowl appearance this season but Locksley, who is known for his local recruiting ties, described Maryland as his “dream job.”
“I think the University of Maryland is very lucky to get Mike Locksley,” said former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen. “I think his lifelong dream was to be the head coach there. He did a great job for me when I was there. I think he’s grown and matured and I think he’s really ready for this opportunity.”
Maryland supporters are hoping Locksley can reinvigorate a football program that has suffered through hardship including the death of Jordan McNair. Locksley, a graduate of Ballou High School in the District, has spent the last three years working under Nick Saban at the University of Alabama.
Locksley served as the Crimson Tide’s co-offensive coordinator and won a national championship last season before he was promoted to offensive coordinator in February. He was named winner last week of the 2018 Broyles Award given to the nation’s top assistant coach.
“Michael has done an outstanding job for us during his time at Alabama and we are pleased and happy for him to become the head coach at Maryland,” said Saban. “We always want our coaches to grow and advance in the profession and he has worked very hard to help our program and our players be successful. He did a great job organizing our offensive staff, and I think his leadership contributed to that in a very positive way.”
During the 2018 campaign, Locksley helped Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa emerge as one of the nation’s top signal-callers. The Heisman Trophy runner-up was named the national player of the year by The Sporting News.
The Alabama offense has set four school records this season including points scored (623) and passing yards (4,231).
“The attributes that make him a great teacher and a successful coordinator are the same characteristics that will make him a tremendous head coach,” said Saban. “We appreciate all he has done to contribute to the success of our program at Alabama. I know he will do an excellent job at Maryland.”