Everything Mike Locksley said after Maryland football’s spring game

Maryland football wrapped up spring ball today with the Red Team topping the White Team, 20-19, inside SECU Stadium. After bringing along the next wave of talent, both through the portal and high school ranks, along with meshing the new-look staff together, head coach Mike Locksley recaps Maryland’s spring:

Locksley opening statement: “I’ll start off with a shoutout for the former Terps who have gotten drafted thus far. I know we still have a few more rounds to go but to see Deonte [Banks], [Jakorian Bennett], Chad [Ryland] thus far get picked with the hopes that some of the other guys will have the opportunity to hear their names called. Really proud of those guys.

The culmination of a strong spring is what today’s showcase was about. I think we got about 110 plays in. We had 15 really strong practices. I think maybe one practice out of the 15, I was disappointed in maybe the effort but the group as a whole, the spring as a whole has been a success for us. We’ve stayed relatively healthy coming out of the day. We’re able to evaluate the new guys as well as some of the younger players that weren’t able to contribute as much a year ago and, whether it’s early enrollees or transfers, I thought we got better. We have some work to do obviously this summer as we start preparation for our season opener against my alma mater, the Towson Tigers but I expect the guys and the culture within that locker room to put the necessary work in for us to be ready come September 2nd.”

Locksley on injury update for Jaquan Sheppard, Tarheeb Still: “Jaquan was able to make it back out on the field for the game. He was there on the sideline, and we kept him out for precautionary measures which was good to see. I was a little worried there early when I got over there to see him down, but, but I think he’ll be okay. With Tarheeb, we’re still waiting to get some evaluation done. MRI, X-rays, those necessary things and I haven’t had a chance to speak to our athletic training staff just yet but hopefully, uh, it’s not as serious or if not, too serious.”

Locksley on defensive performance: “I thought both sides of the ball today, it was a game that as a head coach, you like to see. Competitive there at the end. Early on, I thought defense, you know, I was a little worried about offense there in the first quarter, the way three and outs and punting so much, but a testament to the defensive staff and the job they’ve done preparation wise. This was a very limited game plan. We weren’t out trying to out scheme guys today. It was just a matter, like I’ve said before, about running, blocking, tackling, throwing the football and the fundamentals of the game more than anything. And so, you know, I was really pleased with today’s effort. I like the way our defense is continuing to come along. We’ve added some pieces there and there’ll be a few more pieces as we get the rest of the high school guys that didn’t early enrollee in here. And I’m expecting us to have a really competitive fall camp to define some roles for some of these guys on that side of the ball.

Locksley on what stuck out through practices: “We obviously had most improved players, those guys that got those awards. I can’t remember all the names, but the most improved players to me were the ones that we as a staff felt we’re guys that definitely improved. I’ve been happy and I’ve been on record saying happy with some of the transfer portal guys that we were able to get guys like Kaden Prather, Tyrese Chambers, filling the voids left by some talented receivers. I’ve been really happy with the Jordan Phillips kid there on the defensive front. We saw Quashon Fuller really have a strong spring for us as a guy that was here during last season. His development is still coming along. I’m happy with Taizse Johnson. I can keep going on and on. This has been a really good spring, really productive for us and like I said, it’s the catalyst as we lead into summer camp and our summer camp conditioning and training as we start preparation for season opener.”

Locksley on new WR room: “I thought both Kaden Prather and Tyrese [Chambers] both did a really good job. They’re both still in that learning mode, the tempo in which we play and being able to get lined up cleanly. But, you know, a testament today, Tyrese made a couple of plays and big catches there for us. And then Kaden also made a few plays down the field for us, which showed to me the type of players they have the potential to be and now what we got to do is continue to keep the timing down with Taulia and those guys and losing the production that we lost in Dontay Demus, Rakim Jarrett and Jacob Copeland. I was glad to see the way these guys kind of came in, assimilated and can help us continue our trajectory in the right direction offensively.”

Locksley on the defensive line: “I heard their names called a lot for awards. I think Tommy was able to get, you guys voted for him as the defensive lineman of the game. Losing guys like Ami Finau and Mo Kite and Greg Rose, you know, again, a lot of players that, that were producers for us. It’s time for a guy like Tommy Akingbesote and we’ve challenged him all spring to really step up. He’s going into year three in this program and it’s now time for him to become one of the leaders there. And I’ve been happy with the way he’s progressed. The guy that’s really done a great job is Taizse Johnson. I’ve been really pleased with Taizse in terms of his development, his maturity, his leadership. And I’m hoping that he can continue to do those things throughout the summer. Quashon, again, is one of the more improved guys. A year ago, played some limited reps for us, but really this spring has been disruptive in doing the things that we thought he’d be capable of doing.”

Locksley on first-team offensive line: “The additions of [Gottlieb Ayedze] and Corey Bullock, and moving DJ over to the left side, you know, we lost three starters that have been starters here for three, four years and that’s a lot of production, a lot of games and so to be able to find additions like those guys, as well as [Marcus] Dumervil who’s come in. And they’ve all kind of picked up where those guys left off. This summer’s going to be huge for us. We’re still in the process, as this portal window closes, of trying to maybe add a couple of bodies and hopefully to give us what we need to be able to start preparation. But I like the way the O-line is shaping up. Coach Braswell, Louis Swaba, one of our assistant analysts, they’ve done a really good job with the group in getting the new guys caught up to speed, but still some work to do.”

Locksley on areas of improvement: “I’d say special teams. You know, just the fundamentals of it. You know, we play a lot of players. I think last year we played, had 44 different players maybe start for us. For us to become a championship level team, you know, we’ve got to play really good special teams and not let them be detrimental to the success we can have. I think this summer is going to be really important for some of these young players and newer players to embrace the role. If you look at the guys that have left here and gone on to play in the NFL, guys like Chig and Sam Okuayinonu, those guys have had to participate on special teams. I think a lot of players are starting to see the value of it and for us, you can judge the character of the team by how they play special teams and we’ve got to, in my opinion, continue to make strides like we had on offense and defense in that area of the game and not fundamental, not technique or fundamental, but just the effort and embracing that special It’s going to be a huge part of our ability to win and compete for championships.”

Locksley on the younger QBs: “Cam has done a really good job. He’s a guy that has shown the mental maturity. He doesn’t have a lot of ebbs and flows of riding the wave of emotions that come with playing that position. And I like the makeup he has as a quarterback. He made some big throws today and really had a chance to compete, you know, taking most of the reps there on the one o-line and I thought he did a really good job throughout the spring. He’s a worker. He’s the last guy out off the field, first guy on the field. He’s always looking to get better and I’ve been pleased with the way he’s developed.

With Jayden Sauray, he’s a guy that’s continuing to work in progress. He requested and wanted to be in a live jersey today, which I think is a testament to him wanting to show case the ability has not just a thrower, but a runner. And, you know, he did some nice things today too. And we’ve got to continue to develop those guys here in the next, this summer up through the season because you never know, you may have to count on those guys, and I feel good about the way they’re developing.”

Locksley on Preston Howard, TE room: “It’s not just Preston Howard. I mean, I love the kid in terms of, you know, again, played the quarterback position, played defense, has shown to be tough, smart, reliable, the three things we’re always looking for. Those young tight ends are going to have opportunities to play. You see Corey, we know what Corey’s capable of from a production standpoint. But to see Preston and some of the plays he made today, he’s done it all spring and just a matter of him acclimating to the speed a little bit more but he’s gonna be a special guy, a special player right here. And then I’ve been really pleased with Rico Walker, a guy that plays heavy handed, really short hands, snatches the ball and plays with the physicality that’s not atypical of a young player. So, with those two young tight ends, I think the future is really bright in that room and I’ve been pleased with the way they’ve been developed.”

Locksley on RB room: “The running back room now, they’re veterans. When you look at the production, Colby [McDonald] was a guy and we’re starting to see flashes of the two years ago Colby McDonald and I’ve been happy with seeing that development because he was a guy a couple of years ago that played before Roman Hemby and Antwain [Littleton] and so the talent, it’s there. The consistency is what we’re striving for with him, but he’s a guy that had a much, much better spring. I’m really pleased with how he played. Ramon Brown, you know, got nicked up here about a week ago, but he is a guy that’s really coming on. And then you look at guys like Roman and Antwain who had their lion’s share of the reps a year ago. Both those guys with, you know, Coach [Latrell] Scott coming in and the development that he has had with that group. I’ve been really pleased, but you know, they’re no longer the young guys anymore. They’re veteran guys that have to start taking some leadership roles within our team.”

Locksley on coaching in booth vs. sideline: “Obviously being, I call that the sweet spot, but behind and being able to visualize and see the safeties alignments and everything. I mean, it’s a great view. When you watch film, the endzone shot is a shot that gives you the ability to see leverage angle and the necessary things. Being on the field like that, that’s how I’m usually on the field in practice. So, used to it, but, you know, get back on the sideline here for games.”

Locksley on pro Terps: “Yeah, it’s a dream come true for these guys and a guy who understands, I didn’t play at that level, but just what this great game of football has done for my life, a brown leather ball with air and it changed the lineage of the Locksley family. And for these guys that are having opportunities to hear their names called while having earned degrees or working toward earning degrees, you sit on people’s couch and recruit them here and you talk about that, collecting them on the front of the bridge of manhood and getting them over the bridge and having them be better versions of themselves because of the time they spent in your program, that’s what it’s all about. I’m very hopeful that we’ll be able to hear a bunch more names called. Some talented, talented players that play a major role in getting us to where we are today and creating the foundation that’s necessary to start playing championship level football. So best of luck to the guys who haven’t had their names called and again, congratulations to the guys who have.”

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