Prodi­gal son: Lock­sley feted in re­turn to Terps

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY ADAM ZIELONKA

COL­LEGE PARK | The Univer­sity of Mary­land in­tro­duced Mike Lock­sley as its new foot­ball coach Thurs­day morn­ing at a press con­fer­ence-slash-pep rally in­side the Cole Field House Per­for­mance Cen­ter.

The brass notes of the Mighty Sound of Mary­land march­ing band and cheers of pro­gram donors seated front row ush­ered in what many be­lieve to be a new era of Ter­rapin foot­ball.

Lock­sley, the of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor at the Univer­sity of Alabama, is a na­tive of South­west Wash­ing­ton and a two-time Ter­rapin as­sis­tant coach. Through­out the morn­ing, both Lock­sley and the school em­pha­sized his roots in the re­gion and his back­ground as a life­long fan of the foot­ball pro­gram.

“I can’t tell you guys enough how this is a dream come true for me,” Lock­sley said, “to be the leader of the Mary­land Ter­rapin foot­ball fam­ily.”

Ath­letic di­rec­tor Da­mon Evans said Lock­sley em­bod­ied “the fab­ric of who we are as a state and who we are as Terps.”

The cel­e­bra­tory at­mos­phere was punc­tured more than once by the same topic — the loss of of­fen­sive line­man Jor­dan McNair ear­lier this year. McNair’s fa­ther, Martin, was in at­ten­dance to sup­port Lock­sley.

Lock­sley — whose son Meiko was killed in Columbia, Mary­land,

in Septem­ber 2017 — touted his “tremen­dous re­la­tion­ship” with Martin McNair, which pre­dates their sons’ deaths.

“Marty and my re­la­tion­ship goes back a long way,” Lock­sley said. “Our kids went to school to­gether. We both trag­i­cally lost our kids, and I have been a men­tor for Marty and Marty has been a sound­ing board for me the last year and a half as we work through deal­ing with the emo­tions and the tough­ness of los­ing a child.”

It was a stark re­minder of why Thurs­day’s press con­fer­ence had to hap­pen at all.

Jor­dan McNair re­ceived im­proper treat­ment for heat­stroke at an off­sea­son work­out ear­lier this year, was hos­pi­tal­ized and died two weeks later. An ESPN story later high­lighted al­le­ga­tions of a fear-based cul­ture within the foot­ball pro­gram, which the McNair fam­ily claimed kept their son from speak­ing up for him­self while he was suf­fer­ing. Head coach D.J. Durkin was sus­pended with pay, re­in­stated for one day and then fi­nally fired on Oct. 31.

Lock­sley does not come to Col­lege Park with­out his own bag­gage.

Dur­ing his only prior ten­ure as a head coach, at the Univer­sity of New Mex­ico, Lock­sley at­tacked an as­sis­tant coach — briefly chok­ing him and punch­ing him sev­eral times — and was sus­pended for 10 days for his be­hav­ior. He also faced an age- and sex-dis­crim­i­na­tion com­plaint that was later with­drawn.

That his­tory has some peo­ple ques­tion­ing whether he is the right per­son to en­ter Mary­land’s del­i­cate sit­u­a­tion and re­form the pro­gram.

“I’m so far re­moved from that New Mex­ico ex­pe­ri­ence,” Lock­sley said Tues­day. “Ten years re­moved, al­most. Ten years and two days from when I was in­tro­duced there. Who I’ve be­come as a coach and who I’ve be­come as a per­son, as ev­ery­one else, you ma­ture and you grow.”

Evans — who has his own his­tory at a prior ca­reer stop, a DUI while at Ge­or­gia — backed Lock­sley up.

“Mike and I did have an ex­tended con­ver­sa­tion about it . ... He’s grown as an in­di­vid­ual,” Evans said. “I saw that. He in­di­cated what he learned, and you could just see in him — where he was then, which was eight to 10 years ago, to where he is now, he’s had a lot of life lessons as we all have. (He was) well-vet­ted, and I could not be more proud to have him sit­ting right next to me on this stage.”

Lock­sley said he met with the Ter­rap­ins Thurs­day morn­ing be­fore the in­tro­duc­tion and told them how im­por­tant it was that they build “a foot­ball fam­ily,” not merely a team.

“I told the team, our fam­ily name is Ter­rap­ins. Terps, for short,” Lock­sley said. “And when peo­ple say it, I want them to say it with some re­spect. I want our play­ers to be very pride­ful about that fam­ily name. I want us to dis­play and be the pro­gram we need to be to make the Terp name proud and suc­cess­ful.”

Lock­sley will con­tinue to coach Alabama dur­ing its run in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off. The Crim­son Tide face Ok­la­homa in one semi­fi­nal game, the Orange Bowl, on Dec. 29.

In Locklsey’s lone sea­son as of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, Alabama set four school records: most points scored, to­tal yards, pass­ing yards and pass­ing touch­downs. Lock­sley cred­ited Alabama coach Nick Sa­ban for teach­ing him dur­ing his three­year ten­ure.

“I just spent three years of my 28 years in this busi­ness coach­ing un­der a guy that I feel is the great­est coach in the his­tory of col­lege foot­ball, if not foot­ball alone,” he said. “I just spent three years sat­u­rat­ing and win­ning and see­ing what it’s like to be done right, and I can only hope that I can take just a lit­tle bit of what I’ve learned from Coach Sa­ban the past three years to im­ple­ment and in­stall here at the Univer­sity of Mary­land.”

Lock­sley said he will meet with the coaches still on Mary­land’s staff, but did not re­veal whether he would want to bring back Matt Canada as of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor. Canada’s first sea­son at Mary­land took a sur­prise turn as he be­came the in­terim head coach when Durkin was sus­pended. He was also a fi­nal­ist to keep the po­si­tion full time.


“I can’t tell you guys enough how this is a dream come true for me to be the leader of the Mary­land Ter­rapin foot­ball fam­ily,” Mike Lock­sley said Thurs­day as the new foot­ball coach.

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