- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 22, 2011

Maryland announced the hire of Mike Locksley as its offensive coordinator Thursday. What might be more interesting than his work running the Terrapins’ offense, though, will be the value of his recruiting acumen and ability to learn from an abysmal run as a head coach.

Locksley, who replaces the reassigned Gary Crowton on Randy Edsall’s staff, is well-known nationally for his recruiting work at Florida and Illinois as an assistant under Ron Zook. He also had a 2-26 coaching run at New Mexico littered with off-the-field accusations that ended with a Sept. 25 firing.

“I believe in sharing Randy’s vision,” said Locksley, who worked at Maryland as a running backs coach from 1998 to 2002. “If we can keep the top players in our backyard at home or as many as possible, this program will be back where it needs to be.”

That’s an important step for coach Edsall, whose first season in College Park was at best inauspicious. The Terps went 2-10, losing a school-record seven straight by double digits to complete the season. Eight players with eligibility remaining have departed the program in the month since the season concluded.

The Locksley hire provides Maryland with an established local recruiter, something absent from Edsall’s original staff. Edsall said he reached out to Locksley through Towson coach Rob Ambrose, who was teammates with Locksley at Towson in the 1990s and worked as an assistant under Edsall at Connecticut.

“Given his ties to the D.C. area and the state of Maryland, I think it was a critical hire from a standpoint the Maryland program is never going to reach its full potential until it can keep a good number of the players from the D.C. and Maryland area at home,” said JC Shurburtt, the national recruiting director for 247Sports.

It also marks a stark shift in offensive philosophy. Crowton’s spread scheme never functioned with consistency for the Terps, who vacillated between quarterbacks Danny O’Brien and C.J. Brown before O’Brien broke his non-throwing arm Nov. 12.

Edsall said Locksley’s scheme will veer away from the spread. Both O’Brien and Brown — the only scholarship quarterbacks on Maryland’s roster — were recruited to play in a pro-style system. Locksley will coach Maryland’s quarterbacks in addition to his work as offensive coordinator.

“We’re going to make sure we utilize our team and our players to the best of their ability,” Edsall said. “We’re going to be a multiple pro-style offense that will include some spread principles.”

While Edsall could use any encouraging developments, it is also a crucial opportunity for Locksley, 41, to reignite his career.

Locksley’s tenure at New Mexico included an accusation of sexual harassment by a former administrative assistant (which was later dropped) and a one-game suspension after an assistant coach with whom Locksley had a physical altercation.

The night before Locksley was fired, a 19-year-old was arrested for drunk driving in a car registered to a member of Locksley’s family.

“There have been a lot of things said and written over the last 2 1/2 years that has no validity to it and have been unfounded … ,” Locksley said. “Had those things been true, I’d venture with the lack of success we had, [New Mexico] probably wouldn’t have had to honor my contract.”

Edsall declined to discuss the length or financial terms of Locksley’s deal. Maryland shifted Crowton into a non-coaching administrative position and will pay him up to $125,000 over the next three months. Crowton had agreed to a three-year deal worth $500,000 in annual guaranteed pay, but the university’s legal office never received a signed copy of the deal.

Edsall said that decision to make a change at offensive coordinator stemmed from analysis of the program after the season.

“It’s just like every season: You sit down afterward and look at where you are and what’s going on and always to looking to make yourself better, and that’s what we did,” Edsall said. “That’s a thing I’m continually always doing. I want what’s best for our young men, what’s best for our university and I’m always in a constant evaluation mode. Part of that was this was something we needed to do.”

Locksley’s immediate impact could be seen in the six weeks between his hire and signing day. His influence in this class might be limited because of how late in the recruiting process he was hired, but Shurburtt said Locksley still could provide instant value.

“I think it’s going to have a bigger impact on the 2013 class and beyond, but it would not to be a total shock to see them get one big surprise at the end,” Shurburtt said.