After a busy few weeks of recruiting, Mike Locksley stood in Tyser Tower to shed light on his approach to recruiting as head coach at the University of Maryland. He has one simple goal: “Make it cool to be a Terp again.”
In 2001 and 2002, Locksley’s final years under then-head coach Ralph Friedgen, Maryland started a consistent trend of being ranked in the top 20 with final records of 10-2 and 11-3, respectively. His next tenure in College Park, under Randy Edsall from 2012-15, resulted in a 21-29 record and recruiting was mainly supported by the visual rebranding of the athletics department. With Locksley now in charge, his staff needs to find a way to bring back winning ways and pair them with the flashy new looks, but that will take great recruiting efforts.
Due to the shortened window, Locksley and his staff knew they had to recruit talent in the DMV so that familiarity with the school could be used in their favor.
“There’s no doubt about it, the DMV has become a hotbed and a very fruitful area for recruiting.” Locksley said, “Right here where we’re located has produced a great number of big time players over the years. ... [The staff] have got to do a good job identifying those players as early as we possibly can.”
The 2019 haul of local talent included seven players, led by four-star wide receiver Isiah Hazel, who became the staff’s first flip just before the early signing period in December. The rest of Maryland’s class, though, includes 10 players from other parts of the country, as Locksley and his staff are not afraid to use their connections to other hotbeds to acquire talent.
Lance LeGendre, a four-star quarterback out of New Orleans, went from becoming a late target to perhaps the most massive get for Locksley and his staff during this cycle. Locksley said he found out just two weeks ago through his ties in Louisiana that LeGendre, the top uncommitted quarterback in the class of 2019, was still looking for a place to land. After reaching out and getting him on campus, the signal caller was sold on the opportunity.
Other pickups from key areas include defensive backs Treron Collins and Erwin Byrd from Georgia, offensive lineman Marcus Finger out of Florida and defensive end Anthony “Tank” Booker from Ohio. New staff members such as offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery, special teams coordinator John Papuchis, defensive backs coach Cory Robinson and offensive line coach John Reagan were seen early and often on the recruiting trail with these targets in order to make this short period a fruitful one for Maryland.
While the Terrapins’ class sits at 60th in the nation and 12th in the Big Ten after Signing Day, Locksley pointed out that numbers aren’t exactly telling of every class.
“So much is made and put on by rankings and stars, and those things are placed on kids by other people,” Locksley said, “For us, we wanted to be really specific and do a good job in evaluation of the guys we signed, and we feel really strongly that the guys we signed in this class have the ability and fit the characteristics that we were looking for to build on our team.”
The image of Maryland football that the staff’s targets see is what sets a precedence for the future. Convincing a player like LeGendre and his family to visit campus allows the staff to use all the tools at their disposal to earn the level of trust needed for a commitment.
“Just like what happens to most people when they get here on this campus, they see the vision,” Locksley said, “They see the investment that the administration has made with the facilities that we’re building, they see the opportunity.”
For people in the DMV region, Maryland football being successful is not a far-fetched dream. It’s simply history. Locksley and his staff will work tirelessly to convince those kids to stay home, but in order to reach peak levels of success, evaluating every player’s potential and stealing the hidden gems in other hotbeds is a must.
“The most important city in the world is located 15 minutes from our campus,” Locksley said when asked about his recruiting pitch nationally. “The resources available to a student-athlete here at the University of Maryland, a top-25 academic institution in a lot of different fields... the facilities we’re building ... and it’s just amazes to me to see route one the way it looks. Naturally, when you get people on campus, they find it a great situation as well.”