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Maryland football’s coordinators are using their NFL past to help the program’s future

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This is the Maryland Minute, a short story followed by a roundup of Terps-related news.

Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

If Maryland football running back Javon Leake misses a pass in practice, offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery often tells him, “Catch jugs after practice, you’ve got to do something different to make it to that next level.”

Montgomery would know. After all, he was a wide receivers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers for three years, helping Mike Tomlin coach the team to an AFC championship in 2011. Leake is trying to expand his game, and having a pro in his corner has been really helpful.

“He tries to give us everything he’s been through and his experience, tries to lean on us and guide us in the right way,” Leake said. “He’s the type of coach that, he just makes you feel like you can do anything.”

But Montgomery isn’t the only member of coach Mike Locksley’s staff with experience in the NFL. Defensive coordinator Jon Hoke joins Maryland after three years as Tampa Bay’s defensive backs coach and 16 years in the league.

Maryland hasn’t had an offensive or defensive coordinator with NFL experience since 2010, when James Franklin — now Penn State’s head coach — was the offensive coordinator. Both Hoke and Montgomery are big on player development, and they are using their NFL experience to guide this year’s squad.

“It’s really neat to come in here and be able to teach these guys the game of football, and just teach fundamental football, technical football,” Hoke said. “[I’m] able to share some of those experiences that I’ve had with those players, from coaching in college and from coaching in the National Football League, of what I’ve seen work.”

Defensive back Marcus Lewis said Hoke has brought in a lot of plays that had positive outcomes for the Buccaneers over the last few seasons, which the defense is loving.

“Coach Hoke, he’s been great,” Lewis said. “The system he runs is great.”

It was important to Montgomery to bring in the atmosphere he experienced in Pittsburgh. Before joining the NFL as a coach, Montgomery didn’t expect such a close-knit atmosphere focused on helping players both on and off the field. He learned that you can still have a family-focused atmosphere and be successful, and that’s the kind of attitude he wants to bring to Maryland.

“We don’t talk about winning, we talk about behaviors, daily behaviors that are conducive to excellence,” Montgomery said.

And while Hoke and Montgomery have plenty of experience under their belt that will certainly benefit the Terps, both said they’re thrilled to have the opportunity to coach under Locksley and make something special out of this season.

“He was so ready for this opportunity, this one,” Montgomery said of Locksley. “He’s one of the smartest ball coaches that I’ve been around ... it was just one of those reactions, when I left I couldn’t wait to get back, so I was really excited about him.”

In other news

Two-star 2019 guard Hakim Hart committed to Maryland basketball on Thursday. His commitment fills up all of the Terps’ scholarship spots for next season, though that could change if Bruno Fernando stays in the NBA Draft.

Read our latest NFL Draft profile on offensive lineman Derwin Gray, who could end up as a late-round pick.

Maryland softball rescheduled its Friday game against Penn State due to weather conditions. The Terps will play a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 1 p.m.

Check out this article from The Diamondback’s Eric Meyers on how Maryland lacrosse is supporting Josh Rubinstein as he battles cancer.

Some NFL Draft experts think that Maryland safety Darnell Savage Jr. could go in the first round, though he has previously been projected as a second or third round pick.