By: Eric Myers
The University of Maryland announced Tuesday night that Mike Locksley would be returning back to College Park as the head coach of the football team.
Locksley, a Washington D.C. native, has twice served as an assistant coach for the team and was the interim head coach in 2015 after Randy Edsall was fired.
“I am thrilled to be returning home and to have the opportunity to lead the Maryland Football program,” Locksley said in a statement. “This has always been a special place for me and my family, and I am honored to take on this role at the state’s flagship institution.”
The return for Locksley comes at a time when the football program needs a new leader who can get the team back on track after a tumultuous year. After Jordan McNair’s death in June and the subsequent allegations of a toxic culture, Maryland’s administration faced pressure to fire DJ Durkin on Oct. 31, one day after reinstating him from administrative leave.
“I have been tremendously impressed at how the team came together through a difficult season and honored their fallen teammate, Jordan. We are all in this together, and I look forward to re-joining the Maryland family,” Locksley said in a statement.
After serving as interim head coach in 2015, Locksley was passed over in favor of Durkin in the coaching search process.
During the coaching search this time around, former players, influential alumni and boosters advocated for Locksley as the best candidate for the program to commence forward in a positive direction.
Locksley’s credentials to lead Maryland forward derive mostly from his ability to recruit the fertile D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. During his 26-year coaching career, Locksley has signed 14 four or five-star prospects from the DMV.
During his previous stints at Maryland, Locksley has helped land NFL stars such as Vernon Davis, Stefon Diggs, EJ Henderson, D’Qwell Jackson, Lamon Jordan, Shawne Merriman and Yannick Ngaukwe.
After leaving Maryland in 2015, Locksley went to Alabama, where he served as an offensive analyst in 2016, co-offensive coordinator in 2017 and as the offensive coordinator in 2018 under Nick Saban.
There, Locksley accumulated experience and guided a potent Crimson Tide offense in 2018. This year’s Alabama offense averaged 47.9 points per game and 527.6 yards per game.
Furthermore, Locksley will be known as the signal caller for an offense that set school records in points scored, single-season total offense and passing yards in Alabama’s storied history.
The announcement that Locksley will be the head coach comes on the same day that he won the Broyles Award for the top assistant coach in college football.
“On the field, Michael orchestrated one of the country’s most prolific offenses at the University of Alabama and has long been regarded for his recruiting prowess. Today he was recognized as the nation’s top assistant coach in the country, and I’m excited for him to be leading our program,” Athletic Director Damon Evans said in a statement.
This will be Locksley’s second permanent head coaching job in his career. Locksley served as head coach of New Mexico from 2009 to 2011, where he struggled to a 2-26 record. During his time there, he also faced controversy, according to multiple media outlets including The Washington Post.
In 2009, an administrative assistant filed an age and sex discrimination complaint against Locksley with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Shortly thereafter, Locksley allegedly punched an assistant coach in the face.
Since his time at New Mexico, Locksley has not been publicly accused of any other issues.
Locksley’s past was not enough to deter the Atlanta-based search firm and Evans from looking past Locksley and choosing former interim head coach Matt Canada or Michigan’s passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton, the two other reported finalists for the job, according to The Washington Post.
“As we narrowed the search for the individual best suited to lead our program, [Mike] not only stood out for his talent as a coach, but most importantly for the role he has played as a mentor to student-athletes throughout his career and his deep commitment to helping them grow into leaders on and off the field,” Evans said in a statement.
Maryland is set to introduce Locksley as the head coach during a press conference on Thursday at 11 a.m. at Cole Field House.