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As Mike Locksley starts full-time at Maryland, here’s what he still needs to do

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With Alabama’s postseason run over, Locksley can focus solely on Maryland. He’s got a lot to get to.

NCAA Basketball: Loyola-Maryland at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With Alabama surprisingly getting demolished by Clemson Monday night, Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Mike Locksley can now turn his attention fully to his new job as Maryland’s head coach.

Locksley has been in Tuscaloosa since mid-December, helping Alabama prepare for its run to the CFP title game while trying to fulfill his Maryland duties in his free time. He was able to sign some recruits during the early signing period and fill some coaching vacancies, but he’s behind the curve compared to other new head coaches due to deciding to finish the year at Alabama. Here what Locksley’s accomplished and what he still needs to do over the next few weeks.

What he’s accomplished

Hired some assistants. So far, Locksley has reportedly hired four of 10 possible assistant coaches. According to reports, former North Carolina defensive coordinator John Papuchis will coach linebackers and special teams; DeMatha head coach Elijah Brooks will coach running backs; Alabama offensive analyst and former Tennessee head coach Butch Jones will coach tight ends and be an associate head coach; and former Maryland director of player personnel Cory Robinson will coach the defensive backs. Jimmy Brumbaugh, Andy Buh and Azaar Abdul-Rahim, who were all defensive coaches last year, have found positions at new schools.

Six spots have yet to be filled, but that should change soon as the push to February signing day begins.

Started to build Maryland’s 2019 class. Locksley was hired largely due to his recruiting prowess in the DMV, though he probably won’t be able to flex those muscles for this current class. He was able to sign just six players in the early signing period, which he said was due to previous relationships he had with those players. There are also five players who have verbal commits that have yet to sign, but adding them would still leave Maryland with the smallest class in the Big Ten.

In a conference call with reporters during the early signing period, Locksley said his biggest priority would be trying to round out this recruiting class once the dead period ends in two days. He said this will mostly come from doing as many in-home visits as possible, which is where filling out the coaching staff becomes even more important. The more coaches at an a visit, the more people you have selling why Maryland is the right fit.

Shored up the current roster. Locksley said he talked to about 85-90 percent of the current roster before returning to Tuscaloosa to help with national championship preparation. Maryland returns talented players all over the field, with a good core to build and avoid a full rebuild. Although 13 players from last year’s team put their names in the NCAA’s transfer portal, seven have pulled out and none remaining in were “serious contributors” last year, according to The Baltimore Sun’s Don Markus. Some players may leave between now and the start of the season, but it’s a good sign that there hasn’t been a mass exodus of players asking for their release.

What he still needs to do

Fill his coaching staff. Expect hiring announcements to come quickly, as Locksley has less than a month until the next signing period. Filling the staff will make it easier for him to pitch his vision to recruits, since they can talk to coaches at their respective positions about how they fit into the program. There hasn’t been a ton of noise about who will fill out the staff, although Alabama wide receivers coach Josh Gattis has been linked to Locksley ever since he got the job.

Try to salvage Maryland’s recruiting class. With the majority of recruits signing during the early period, Locksley may have to look to sign under-the-radar players with high upside instead of the blue-chippers fans and boosters hoped he would land when hired. But any momentum on the recruiting trail could be crucial for next year, a class loaded with DMV prospects.

Explore the transfer market. With Maryland’s recruiting coming to a halt during this season, there’s depth lacking at multiple key positions. The Terps graduate four starters on the offensive line, both their defensive ends and their top defensive back. While Maryland has recruited well at those positions over the past few seasons, bringing in a more seasoned player could be a better option for the near future. The Terps had success with transfers last year, especially on defense. Tre Watson was Maryland’s best defensive player, and Byron Cowart, Marcus Lewis and Rayshad Lewis all made an impact.

Even if they can’t land any graduate transfers, adding transfers can still make up for a small recruiting class. There are plenty of local players throughout college football, and Locksley could use his local ties to help try to convince them to make an impact while playing close to home.