Maryland football officially unveiled new staff changes Tuesday, filling the positions of staff members who left this offseason.
As Testudo Times previously reported, senior analyst Ron Zook has been promoted to special teams coordinator and assumed the role of associate head coach. The Terps also announced the hires of Brian Stewart as defensive coordinator and Zohn Burden as wide receivers coach.
On top of their roles as coordinators, Zook and Stewart will also coach outside linebackers and safeties, respectively.
“These additions to our coaching staff make us stronger as a program as each brings a solid mix of experience, on-field player development and recruiting prowess,” head coach Mike Locksley said in a statement. “Brian has experience as a defensive coordinator at both the college and NFL levels. We share many of the same coaching philosophies and he has a great familiarity with our program and this area.
“I have a long-standing relationship with Coach Zook, who was integral in my development as a coach. He has a great special teams mind and adds a wealth of experience to our staff. Zohn comes highly recommended by numerous people that I respect in the coaching ranks. He’s from the talent-rich Tidewater region and should be a tremendous asset for us recruiting that area, in addition to his ability to develop our talented wide receiver unit.”
Zook brings 43 years of coaching experience across college and professional football, including head coaching stints at Florida and Illinois, where he and Maryland head coach Mike Locksley initially formed a bond.
Before joining the Terps as a senior analyst in 2019, Zook previously had a string of special teams assistant and coordinating positions with the Green Bay Packers (2014-2018) and the XFL’s Salt Lake Stallions (2019).
“I hold Coach Locksley in extremely high regard and we’ve been together on some special staffs through the years,” Zook said. “I’ve always told him I’d help him in any way that I could and I’m excited to take on this new role on his staff. I’ve seen firsthand the work he’s put in to build this program the right way and I know the best is ahead for the Terps.”
Stewart returns to a familiar position in College Park, having served as defensive coordinator under Randy Edsall from 2011-2014 before mutually parting ways. His experience as defensive coordinator includes stints at Houston, Maryland and Rice, as well as time leading the Dallas Cowboys defense.
Under Stewart’s direction, the 2012 Terrapin defense ranked third in the ACC in total defense, allowing 336.8 yards per game. As a recruiter, Stewart brought reined in Maryland star Will Likely III as part of the 2013 class and helped lay the foundation during his freshman season before departing.
After leaving Maryland, Stewart went on to coach defensive backs at Nebraska and Rice before returning to the NFL with the Detroit Lions from 2018-2019. He last coached defensive backs at Baylor in 2020.
“I’m thrilled to be back at Maryland, especially during this exciting time where Coach Locksley is building the program with his vision,” Stewart said. “I have a lot of love for Coach and his family. He’s a great coach and an even better man. I’m looking forward to working with the staff he’s assembled and developing a roster that’s filled with talented young players. This staff recruits extremely hard and the DMV is a great talent base to recruit. I can’t wait to get to work.”
Burden joins the Maryland staff after a year away from coaching, last assuming the role of running backs coach with Virginia Tech during the 2019 season.
Across his coaching career, Burden has held positions at Fork Union, Old Dominion and Virginia Tech with a prominent role in the passing game at each school.
The Virginia Beach native was a phenomenal recruiter when coaching for the Hokies, reeling in several four-star athletes and other top talent, including tapping into his hometown, the well-known “757” area, which Maryland has struggled to recruit since wide receivers coach Chris Beatty left the program.
In 2020, Burden founded G.A.M.E Academy, which stands for Guiding Athletes through Mentoring and Education, as a way to help high school athletes grow on and off the field. On top of on-field training, Burden and his associates worked to help navigate the recruiting process, especially through the rough COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m grateful to Coach Locksley for this opportunity and am excited for what I can add to and learn from the coaching staff he’s assembled,” Burden said. “The wide receiver room is full of talent and I’m looking forward to helping continue their development. Maryland has really pushed the envelope in recruiting under Coach Locksley and I’m hoping that my relationships can only continue to help us grow in that area. It’s an exciting time to be a Terp.”
In addition to these hires, Brawley Evans has shifted to coach inside linebackers, while tight ends coach Mike Miller will also serve as passing game coordinator.
These changes come as the final wave to fill the Maryland football staff, after Locksley hired Dan Enos as offensive coordinator and Brian Braswell as offensive line coach in early January.