Mike Locksley, Maryland Football Recruiting, and the 2012 Class: A Primer

It's post-5:00 on Tuesday, and still no official announcement on Mike Locksley as Maryland's next offensive coordinator. I'm sure the majority of you have reached hand-wringing time, especially because this afternoon would've been a great chance to bury it in the news cycle (what with the Ohio State stuff going down).

I'm still not worried, though, because there's been no chatter saying that the train has lost any steam. Patrick Stevens or Jeff Barker haven't come out and said that Locksley and Anderson/Edsall have run into any issues, and with Locks on campus, it seems more a formality than anything else. Maybe they just want to give him free access to recruits. (That's legal, apparently.)

Still, if you're like me, you're getting a little bored for the other shoe to drop, given that it's been dangling for almost a week and it's only hanging on by a thread. So, to pass the time, let's talk some more Locksley.

We've already looked back at his entire history, from his coaching philosophy to his character issues at New Mexico to his obvious recruiting aptitude. And I've already shared my opinion on the quality of Locksley's hire: an inherently risky one, but also an ambitious one that Maryland probably needed to make.

The biggest reason I'm in favor of the hire, of course, is recruiting. That's Locksley's bread and butter, and an area his new team needs to improve upon to consistently compete in the ACC. His largest recruiting impact is almost certain to come in the 2013 class, in which he'll have a chance to get out and build up relationships with kids who might not know him yet. But with a big name and big reputation in the D.C. area, he may very well be able to salvage what's been a bit of an underwhelming class for the Terrapins in 2012.

The biggest name he could have a serious impact with? Wes Brown, the Good Counsel running back. He had cut Maryland from his list a few months ago, instead going with a top five of Vanderbilt, Virginia, Colorado, Penn State, and, yes, New Mexico, which is Locksley's old haunt. He's widely expected to land in Vanderbilt with James Franklin (that hurts more every day) but Locksley coming home could and should change that drastically.

While not a guarantee, Locksley's presence was a large reason for Brown considering New Mexico (perhaps the only reason, though Brown did have a former teammate out there). Add that to the home-town factor, and Maryland should be in the thick of the race again.

Which is a very good thing. Brown is a four-star on both Rivals and Scout (he's a three-star on ESPN); Rivals ranks him as the #249 prospect in the country and the #17 RB, while Scout pegs him as the #9 RB and #58 overall player. I'm not quite as high on him as Scout is, but it's undeniable that he's a very good prospect at running back. He's not exceedingly fast (something that might've hurt in Gary Crowton's system but to me makes him almost like a Rashard Mendenhall-lite for Mike Locksley's scheme) but is very well-rounded otherwise: his vision is top-notch, he's strong enough to run through tackles, and seems to accelerate very quickly. He's a handful and would challenge Justus Pickett for the starting spot right away. (If you want to see for yourself, check out his highlights.)

Another name often mentioned in connection with Locksley is Kenny Crawley, a cornerback who goes to D.C. public H.D. Woodson and is currently committed to Tennessee. Combine the turmoil in Knoxville with the arrival of Locksley, whose reputation with D.C. publics is pristine, and Maryland will almost certainly try to poach him as signing day nears. If they do, it'll be a pretty major coup.

Crawley's a four-star on both ESPN and Rivals, and a three-star on Scout. (Highlights.) He has really good size for cornerback and very good ball skills. With two of Maryland's top three corners graduating from last year (Cam Chism and Trenton Hughes) the Terrapins are pretty desperate for cornerback depth. Crawley wouldn't likely start right away, but he'd almost certainly see playing time as a freshman.

Unless, of course, Locksley could instead poach arguably the best cornerback prospect in the country in Ronald Darby (Scout, Rivals, ESPN, highlights). A current Notre Dame commitment, Darby's been looking around for quite some time now, visiting Maryland for the Miami win before taking trips to Clemson and Auburn, too. UMD isn't considered to be a serious frontrunner right now, but there's still enough wiggle room in his recruitment that Locksley could help to make a late push.

I'm not sure he'd start right away, either, but I'd be shocked if he didn't find himself as Maryland's nickel back and punt/kick returner from day one. He's likely the fastest player in the country - his 40 is already sub-4.4 and he won the New Balance Indoor Nationals in the 200m with a time of 21.24 - and is a speed merchant as a returner, which makes him incredibly dangerous with the ball in a Cliff Harris sort-of way. There are some concerns about his technique at corner and some claims that he's a little raw, but his physical tools are extraordinary.

Darby goes to Potomac in Oxon Hill, a public that might as well be in DC (Oxon Hill is literally on the D.C.-Maryland line, after all), which means that Locksley should have some measure of pull. Unfortunately, Darby would obviously like to run track in college, which is a bit problematic given that Maryland just cut its men's track team. Hopefully those "Save the Sports" efforts succeed.

Locksley's also likely to have some influence on other D.C.-area recruits, like Albert Reid at Friendship Collegiate. That was more or less a given when Locks came on the staff.

What'll be really interesting to see, and what is perhaps most important, is if he can help Maryland reel in elite recruits. Landing guys like Crawly and Reid, who are very good prospects in their own right, is one thing; landing guys like Eddie Goldman, Stefon Diggs, and the aforementioned Ronald Darby, all of whom could go to literally any program in the country, is another thing altogether.

We've already gone over Darby. But Diggs and Goldman are two more question marks. Diggs, I would think, is probably out of reach. He already cut Maryland from his list and Locksley wasn't active in his recruitment at New Mexico, meaning there's no personal connection (to go along with Locksley's diminished effect at Good Counsel, which is far from his D.C.-public breadbasket). If Diggs reconsiders Maryland thanks to Locksley, it's a very good sign.

More likely is the Terrapins having a puncher's chance with Goldman, recognized by both Rivals and ESPN as the best defensive player and second-best overall player in the country. He's the highest-ranked player out of D.C. in years (perhaps ever?) and would transform Maryland in many ways, both on the roster (an instant replacement for Joe Vellano in a year) and off it (would help change the perception of Maryland and could lead to a domino effect).

Maryland's never been a big player with Goldman throughout his entire recruitment, which means they have quite a bit of an uphill battle. But ESPN recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg thinks that a Locksley hire changes things drastically - his phrasing was "all bets are off" - and, at the very least, it looks like it's making Goldman give Maryland some serious consideration.

The effect in the 2013 class should be even more pronounced: perhaps the most well-regarded recruit in the area in '13 is offensive lineman Derwin Grey - he's rated #15 in the country by 247 (the only service with rankings out for 2013s so far). And Grey hails from D.C. public Dunbar, which is one of Locksley's foremost hunting grounds. His addition to the staff might go so far as to make Maryland an early frontrunner for Grey's services.

Obviously, Locksley does quite a lot of good for Maryland's recruiting efforts; he's certainly a giant step in the right direction and will help Maryland drastically with D.C. area recruits. But he won't revolutionize their large-scale recruiting on his own; for that, much more needs to change. The staff needs a few more proven recruiters. The team needs to start winning. And perhaps most of all, Randy Edsall may need to alter his approach to something more ... palatable.

After all: "If the head ain't right, the tail ain't right. Recruits know that."

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