Taulia Tagovailoa, Jeshaun Jones talk locker room development as Maryland preps for Towson

Maryland will shift their attention from fall camp to game prep with this weekend’s season opener set for a 3:30 PM kickoff, but head coach Mike Locksley will look to build off what he called “by far the most productive camp that I’ve had since I’ve been back here.”

“If I could do a documentary on training camp, there’d be all types of great stories behind the scenes,” Locksley said on Tuesday. “This one was clean, and it verified to me who I thought we could be as a team, which is why when I talk about this player-driven culture that has been established, it’s come through, and it’s real. And so, you know, what we need to do now, we’ve got the bus loaded up, we’ve got the players in the right positions, we’ve got the destination set, and now we’ve got to start our trip. And that’s what this Saturday’s all about for us.”

With the 2023 team meshing a blend of portal additions and freshmen class with its returning pieces, quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa cited “a lot more team activities” as the reason why the team has been able to gel.

“I think a lot had to do with Coach R.D., Ryan Davis, and his team, the whole summer, getting us to bond together, doing hard things together and it reveals character,” Taulia added. “So I think just the hard work, us as a team put in together and really buying into winning championships, that starts in the offseason. So I think with that mindset, we all have the same mindset going into fall camp…we know fall camp is going to be hard and just sticking together and grinding it out with each other.”

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses as head coach Mike Locksley noted a poor practice in week three, but the next day, it was sixth-year receiver Jeshaun Jones who stepped up in the locker room.

“The other day we kind of have one of those tough practices and we backed it up later that evening, and Jeshaun was one of those guys that called the team up before we started practice to kind of set the standard for ‘hey look, we didn’t meet our standard the last practice and now the goal is let’s come back and get better,’” Locksley said following the second scrimmage.

For Jones, who opted to return alongside Fa’Najae Gotay for a sixth season, he knew that he “wasn’t going to wait for someone else to do it.”

“I kind of was like, I see it, I feel it, I might as well say it. You’ve got tremendous leaders like Beau Brade…Dante Trader, Taulia [Tagovailoa], all those guys have no problem stepping up and saying something where I wouldn’t but in that situation, I kind of knew. I felt the vibe at practice. You could see it, you could feel it. I just felt like somebody needs to say something.”

Saturday will also mark the final season opener for both Jones and Tagovailoa, though Tagovailoa and the veterans are focused on providing a good first impression for Maryland fans inside SECU Stadium.

“Coach always talks about first impression and we want to put on a show for our fans and for our team,” Taulia said. “It’s all about how we prepare. Obviously, we got a new team ourselves so just seeing how everything’s coming together and stuff like that, I feel very confident about it. And it’s always the same approach. Going 1-0 at the end of the week, just trying to keep stacking these games.”

Maryland’s game prep has been a blend between watching last year’s film of [the] University of West Florida in an effort to familiarize both sides with first-year Towson head coach Pete Shinnick’s scheme and tendencies, along with watching Towson to learn more about the personnel.

“I feel like it’s been tough to watch kind of, knowing they have a whole different staff, look at West Florida and look at Towson and kind of match it all up,” Jeshaun Jones added. “It’s kind of been different for me, having this situation, but I think the coaches have a great gameplan and have everything out that we need and I think we’ll be ready to go.”

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