Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley will become Maryland football’s head coach, athletic director Damon Evans announced Tuesday, the same day Locksley won the Broyles Award for the top assistant coach in the country.
Locksley served as Maryland’s running backs coach between 1997 and 2002 before returning as offensive coordinator between 2012 and 2015. While he’s posted a 3-31 record in previous head coaching opportunities, he’s viewed as an adept recruiter in the area.
“I am thrilled to be returning home and to have the opportunity to lead the Maryland Football program,” Locksley said in a release. “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.”
He’ll take the helm of a program rocked with controversy over the past year that has just eight players in its 2019 class.
The university put head coach DJ Durkin on leave in August following offensive lineman Jordan McNair’s death from heatstroke suffered at a team workout and reports of a “toxic” team culture. Durkin was reinstated as head coach Oct. 30 on the Board of Regents’ recommendation, then fired a day later.
"I have been tremendously impressed at how the team came together through a difficult season and honored their fallen teammate, Jordan,” Locksley said. “We are all in this together.”
This year, Locksley’s offense at Alabama was one of the most formidable in the country. As offensive coordinator, Locksley helped lead the Crimson Tide to their fifth SEC Championship in seven seasons, with the second-best scoring offense in the nation.
Locksley also brings his recruiting prowess to College Park. He served as Maryland’s recruiting coordinator for five seasons and grew up in Washington, D.C. Evans had said previously that a connection to the Maryland area was an important factor in selecting the next head coach.
Under interim head coach Matt Canada, the Terps went 5-7. Canada was hired to be the team’s offensive coordinator in January and took over for Durkin in August. Along with Locksley and Michigan quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton, Canada was reported to be one of the three finalists for Maryland’s job opening.
Locksley will need to make an immediate impact on Maryland’s recruiting outlook for next season to improve a class ranked No. 84 in the country, per 247sports. The 48-year-old offensive mind may look to dip into graduate or junior-college transfers.
Locksley’s last head coaching job was at New Mexico from 2009 to 2011. He went 1-11 in each of his first two seasons with the Lobos and was fired after starting 0-4 in his third campaign.
After Maryland fired coach Randy Edsall in October 2015, Locksley became interim head coach for the final six games. He went 1-5, with three defeats to teams ranked in the final AP poll and a win over Rutgers in the season finale. He was reported to be a finalist for the permanent job following that season, but then-athletic director Kevin Anderson instead hired Durkin.
Locksley’s hiring does not come without baggage. During his first year with the Lobos, administrative assistant Sylvia Lopez filed a sexual harassment and age discrimination claim to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but the claim was later withdrawn.
Locksley was also suspended 10 days in 2009 after an altercation with wide receiver coach and recruiting coordinator J.B. Gerald, though Locksley and the school disputed parts of Gerald’s account.
The Washington Post reported Locksley signed a five-year, $2.5 million per year contract with an option for another year.
This story has been updated.