Maryland fills out 2019 recruiting class thanks to Locksley’s Southern foothold
COLLEGE PARK The Maryland Terrapins’ football staff sat around a table in their recruiting war room, watching a live video of four-star quarterback Lance LeGendre. When the high schooler announced he would sign his national letter of intent to play at Maryland, coach Mike Locksley clapped and stood up from his chair as the staff around him exploded into cheers.
Locksley later said “those emotions were rolling all morning long” for other signees; it was just that particular video that Maryland athletics had posted on Twitter.
But you can understand Locksley’s excitement. LeGendre wasn’t even connected to the Terrapins a month ago.
“He was a guy that we had recruited and began recruiting at Alabama,” Locksley said. “His name was on our board for quite some time. We were very familiar with him. Our recruiting process for him here at Maryland started about probably two weeks ago.”
Wearing a red blazer, Locksley held his first National Signing Day press conference as the Terrapins’ coach, where it became apparent that his background in SEC country can be a difference-maker in the years to come.
Locksley is a Washington, D.C. native who had two stints as an assistant coach for the Terrapins, and he is considered an expert recruiter in Maryland, Virginia and the District. But after spending three years at the University of Alabama, most recently as Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator, he can also wield his connections to the talent-rich South.
Those connections helped Locksley land LeGendre, the 12th-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the nation per ESPN’s rankings. LeGendre is from New Orleans Locksley pronounced his name “le-JOHN” with a French lilt and he attracted offers from the likes of Alabama, Florida State and Tennessee.
“I think the big thing is when you’re in the SEC, where I just came from, Louisiana is an area that has a ton of players and really good football down there,” Locksley said. “For me, because of my ties at Alabama and obviously Coach Saban having spent time there, we were able to develop relationships. ... Once you develop those relationships, it doesn’t matter where you are. It’s all about need and demand, and we needed a quarterback.”
Overall, Maryland’s Class of 2019 does not stack up well against its rivals. As late as Wednesday afternoon, ESPN ranked it 13th in the Big Ten out of 14 schools. But in addition to LeGendre, the Terrapins inked consensus four-star wide receiver Isaiah Hazel from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, and defensive players from Georgia and Florida that ESPN considered four-star prospects.
The Terrapins can be happy with that haul in the aftermath of the controversial end to D.J. Durkin’s tenure as head coach and the transition to Locksley that followed. Locksley was hired in early December, but returned to Alabama for a spell to coach the Crimson Tide in the national semifinal and national title game.
“The good thing is we came in with the short period we had with the four coaches I hired before I left to go back to Alabama, we built the structure of our recruiting office, in which they were able to build the board,” Locksley said. “The whole thing to recruiting is making sure you know who the best available players are. So though we didn’t have full-time coaches on board, we had a recruiting staff that was working behind the scenes while I was at Alabama finishing up my job there. And I’ve got to give great credit to those guys.”
Out of necessity, this was a departure from how the final recruiting class of the Durkin era was assembled. In 2018, the Terrapins only made one signing on National Signing Day; the majority of the class signed during the newly-instituted early period in December. On Wednesday, Locksley and his staff added 11 recruits after opening with six in the early period.
Maryland also acquired two transfers, linebacker Keandre Jones from Olney, Maryland and wide receiver Sean Savoy from Washington, D.C.