Locksley talks ’22 signees, OL haul, SFA success, “sleepless night”

Maryland entered the final week leading into the early signing period with a recruiting class that hovered in the high 50s.

But after prospects put pen to paper on Wednesday, Maryland inked a class that finished 26th in the 247Sports team rankings as the Terps were among the undoubted winners on the trail.

One day after flipping four-star running back Ramon Brown from Virginia Tech, Maryland pulled off the hometown flips from St. Frances four-star linebacker Jaishawn Barham and three-star offensive tackle Andre Roye. The pair of hometown flips helped start the day as head coach Mike Locksley pulled off his third consecutive Signing Day signature addition, while junior college offensive tackle Maximus McCree opted for the Terps over Houston and Syracuse. The 19th pledge of Maryland’s 2022 class in the final hour of Wednesday morning after Paint Branch (MD) four-star wide receiver Octavian Smith opted to stay in-state and signing with the Terps.

“We signed a lot of high-quality kids today and as I’ve said, to our staff, when you look at this class as a whole, and I think I’ve said this to each one of these guys, I really do see this class being kind of the DNA of the player driven culture that we’re working to create here. There’s a number of these guys that have served as team captains, quite a few come from programs where they built their high school programs from the ground up, similar to what we’re doing here at Maryland, and a lot of these guys, you know, have shown tremendous leadership qualities. And, you know, this class may not rank as high as maybe some of the other classes that we’ve had before. But I can tell you, when it comes to character, leadership, the intangibles that it takes to create a player-driven culture, I feel really, really good about this class and each one of these guys that make it up.”

But it was how the Terps ended their signing day sprint that was notable. Maryland’s second commitment of the 2022 cycle came from Spalding (MD) three-star linebacker Kellan Wyatt while TE Preston Howard (McDonogh), QB Jayden Sauray (Wise), and DE Daniel Owens (Calvert Hall) were among the local prospects already expected to sign with the program. But the Terps had struggled to win over the top local targets through the summer into the fall, creating concern about Locksley’s local recruiting touch in year three with the program. But by ending his class with Barham, Roye, and Smith, Locksley reminded folks of his impact on the trail as the head coach is pleased with the local flavor.

“We kept a lot of local talent home, which is our goal,” Locksley added. The goal is to keep the right local talent here. We won’t get them all, but we need to make sure we get the right ones and I feel like we did just that as a staff. You know, that’s always a priority.”

The recruiting win over South Carolina to land four-star linebacker Jaishawn Barham was notable as the Terps landed arguably their top overall target this cycle, especially considering Barham verbally committed to the Gamecocks just five days prior. While South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer referred to a greater “plan” as reason why Barham flipped his pledge on Wednesday, Locksley referenced “a lot of hard work, pretty much a sleepless night” as part of the reason why.

“I can’t tell you that I had any idea that it would happen. Or you know, none of our coaches could say that we knew this would happen. But as with all our recruiting, our coaches just continued to remain very diligent in selling the Maryland brand and you know, we’ve recruited those guys for two, three years now. There’s some deep-rooted relationships that were already established. You know, guy like Elijah Brooks who…recruited him to DeMatha and has known him since you know, sixth grade. I’ve always told you guys about third party validation and for us here locally, to have people that would stand in the gap for us to sell what great things we’ve done when we’ve been associated with some of these third-party individuals really, I think, is what pushed it over the edge,” Locksley said of his prized recruit. “I know both sets of parents would have loved to see their kids stay close to home. You know, they both made decisions early on. And you know, I think as they got closer to signing day, they started to see the value of what staying at home looks like. But I also think us being able to show that as a program, we did take a significant step with our program by becoming a bowl eligible team and getting into this cycle along with the addition of Jones Hill House, our new facility really gave us a lot of firepower in terms of being able to continue to press those guys and sell the vision I have from Maryland football.”

Locksley did push back on the notion that he’s been unsuccessful recruiting out of the Baltimore powerhouse in recent years.

“I’ve had great success recruiting St. Frances over the years, wherever I’ve been. I don’t want to discount the guys we have in our program from there Ja’Khi Green, TJ Butler, Joe Bearns, you know, are all guys that played and we’re part of building that great program that coach Messay Hailemariam, a former Maryland football player has built along with Biff Poggi, who I have a lot of respect for both those guys who’ve served as head coaches. And, you know, I think they all know the brand that we have here and what we’re building. We continue to develop great relationships with these high school area coaches to show them that, you know, as the flagship university, we’re doing our part to go out and recruit each and every high school in this state that has division one talent, and, you know, our coaches continue to do a great job of selling the Maryland brand to the high school kids and coaches that are here. And, you know, to be able to get, you know, Jaishawn [Barham] and Andre Roye out of there, those are two of the right guys.”

Barham headlines the early enrollees as he’ll join Andre Roye, Andrew Booker, Gavin Gibson, Keon Kindred, Maximus McCree, Ja’Kavion Nonar, Jayden Sauray, and Caleb Wheatland for move-in day on January 20.

“To be able to have these guys here to go through spring ball upfront to get into a jump start on lifting, conditioning, and training will be really beneficial for our program as we continue to grow this thing.”

Locksley made note to mention all four signed offensive tackles will be on campus next month as Locksley noted allows “us to really replenish and add to that room, which to me, is maybe the last piece or the missing piece to us taking that gigantic step that we want to try to take this upcoming season.” Maryland had to fight off Florida over the final week leading into signing day to secure their letters of intent, but Glades Central (FL) offensive tackles Ja’Kavion Nonar and Keon Kindred are a big part of the staff’s solution and bolstering the position’s long-term depth was a question mark that is now answered through the signed class.

“Our recruiting thoughts haven’t changed. We had a system that we put in when we got here, wasn’t my first rodeo being in the Big Ten, so I knew it was important to increase our size, strengthen power on the [offensive] line and [defensive] line. We addressed the [defensive] line last year recruiting. It’s not something that you can kind of do in one big recruiting class and so we’ve had a plan on how we were going to attack it and as you’ll see, this year, we’re heavy loaded on offensive tackle body types. You know, we haven’t had a bunch of tackle bodies you know, we had a DJ Glaze a year ago and some of the other tackles we took ended up being guards.”