Mike Locksley previews Maryland football spring ball, talks coaching staff additions

Maryland football begins year five of the Mike Locksley era on Tuesday as they prepare for practice number one. With a healthy mix of new and familiar faces, head coach Mike Locksley looks ahead to begin identifying the new playmakers as the 2023 roster comes together.

“It’s 15 opportunities to go out and develop our roster. We’ve got a lot of new faces. I think we have 18 new guys that showed up here in January, the end of January, first time in the Terp football family, and so for us, it’s an [introduction] to them as to how we do things around football-wise,” Locksley added. But early on, the makeup of the roster has stuck out to Locksley.

“Culture is what will allow us for this restart to hopefully maintain some of the characteristics of the things that it takes to build a win program, to build a championship program and to me, the locker room is where it starts. So if there’s anything that really jumps out to me, it’s the locker room. And that’s why I talked about the players we’ve left have left a huge, huge imprint on the way we need to do things the Terp way, the right way. I think the players in that locker room now see the dividends of when you do it the right way.”

As Maryland welcomes several new faces like Kaden Prather, Tyrese Chambers, Jordan Phillips along with the early enrollees from the high school ranks, having veterans like Taulia Tagovailoa, Jeshaun Jones and Fa’Najae Gotay help the staff maintain the standard they routinely reference. “

We’ve had four years to get our first class, which you look at it, I think it kind of got blown up. And now when you look at the way the landscape of college football is seeing classes come through and where you lose maybe two or three is not normal, but to have those types of pieces, when you’ve mentioned a guy like Taulia, who seems like he’s been around here a long, long time, has had great success. To have him back, if you’ve got a quarterback, you’ve got a chance and we fully got a quarterback.

“To be able to keep Jeshaun Jones here at least until the next portal window opens ‘cause you never know another way the portal goes, but to have Jeshaun come back for an extra year, I think one, it speaks volumes to our program. Cause again, a guy like Jeshaun who, two knee injuries, have been through a lot, want to come back and still be a part of helping us take the next step is really, really important.”

Taulia now prepares for year four as Maryland’s starting quarterback and he’ll do so with a healthy blend of veteran receivers leading the way.

“He’s a guy that I know has aspirations to play at the next level. Haven’t seen a bunch of guys that have gone on to do that. There’s no doubt in my mind that he has the ability to do it. Quarterbacks are judged by winning and if you look at the impact that Taulia Tagovailoa has had on our program since he’s been here and what we’ve been able to accomplish, shows that he is a winner. Excited ‘cause of that experience. Excited because like I said before, one of the best quarterbacks having a chance to come back and then still have some really talented players around him to distribute. It’s a win-win for us having Taulia back.”

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Locksley also added that the strength staff did well with “an extra week” adding mass to his roster ahead of the start of spring ball, but the spring also gives his new coaching staff a chance to familiarize themselves with their new personnel.

“We brought in coaches that have been head coaches, successful head coaches who won big games, that are part of big games. We brought in coaches that received major accolades for the job they’ve done at different places. And I feel really good the addition of Josh Gattis, Zac Spavital, Latrell Scott and Kevin Sumlin joining our football program to be able to attract coaches of their caliber, really shows what people think about the Maryland football brand as we continue to move it forward.”

With Josh Gattis expected to call plays this fall, the scheme and play style remain constant as the staff now irons out its personnel.

“We’re running the Maryland offense and that will remain consistent throughout my tenure here. As I’ve said before, what we do on offense, defense and special teams will change based on the coordinator. Now what the coordinator’s able to do is to put his personality on it, call it to his personality, which will allow Josh to do that.”

Locksley reiterated, though, that he didn’t need to sell anyone on Maryland.

“We’re gonna show you what we have, why it’s important for you to understand the value or what value coming to Maryland will create for you, and to me, that that’s what we’ve done. I think if anything, it’s a testament to Maryland when guys like Kevin Sumlin, like Josh Gattis, like Latrell Scott who wants to come and be here.”

“It’s exciting times for the Terps.”

First practice begins at 4 PM today.

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