VIP: next steps after latest coaching departure, top targets from Florida head to campus

Days after it appeared the 2023 staff was in place following the announcement of Josh Gattis and Zac Spavital on the staff, news broke publicly on Monday morning that running backs coach Elijah Brooks is moving to Virginia Tech as head coach Mike Locksley is tasked with replenishing the offensive staff once more.

The timing was right for both Maryland and Elijah Brooks to move on. Based on multiple conversations from all sides, Brooks will head to Virginia Tech where he’ll remain the running backs coach and have a chance at a title upgrade, something that hadn’t happened in four seasons at Maryland and looked unlikely any time soon. Buzz emerged last week that Brooks was in the mix elsewhere as Maryland steadily shifted his recruiting territory to Brian Williams in preparation for a move that became complete over the weekend.

When Brooks arrived at Maryland, transitioning from a high school coach to a college recruiter took time, but the longtime DeMatha coach became a very familiar face in the local recruiting scene and was also able to help Maryland strengthen relationships with prospects as they progressed in their recruitment. Ramon Brown, a former target who Brooks recruited to DeMatha prior to HS, is a prime example of that. Recruiting success out of DeMatha has been nearly nonexistent, though Brooks led the way for other local commitments like Brown, Roman Hemby, Colby McDonald, Antwain Littleton, Tommy Akingbesote and Leron Husbands. I touched on Brooks’ involvement during the recruitments of both Nyck Harbor and Jaishawn Barham, but it was largely Brooks who paved the way to get Nyck and his family on campus several times down the stretch only to slip away largely because of NIL.

Brooks was leading the way once again with local recruiting, but it’s been Brian Williams who has taken over local recruiting for the time being. Williams has already established himself and become a familiar face among the local coaches given he’s entering year five with the program, but whether he retains D.C. and PG County for the remainder of the cycle remains to be seen. I’m told the hires of both Josh Gattis and Kevin Sumlin did not impact Brooks’ outlook on a possible career move. The Hokies have offered more money, which also made this a realistic move.

In regards to next steps, I’m told Locksley already has his list in mind with the full focus on finalizing the position ahead of spring ball beginning March 28. This gives Maryland a chance to add a proven recruiter to the offensive side of the ball, while local intel has strongly indicated that a hire with local ties would be most beneficial in order to maintain its local recruiting efforts in the 2024 class.

While Maryland will now replace its running back vacancy just 15 days away from the start of spring ball, they’re still transitioning as Josh Gattis prepares to call plays while head coach Mike Locksley takes on the quarterback room alongside Gattis. The ability for Gattis to learn from Locksley as the play caller, along with adding experience with a new position, helped seal the deal to fill that role. Gattis has since signed a two-year deal totaling $1.8 million.

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How much of an impact does Brooks’ departure have on local recruiting? I’m told that out of DeMatha (MD), both Terez Davis and Emmett Laws still have Maryland firmly under consideration. Davis is a local target to keep tabs on, while Laws, a 6-foot-1 defensive tackle, posted 26 reps of 225 over the weekend and will get a chance to prove himself as the anchor of a revamped Stags’ defensive line. The biggest question with Laws is whether his size translates to the Big Ten, but there’s little doubt he’ll be among the best defensive lineman in the WCAC next fall regardless of class. The biggest school that Maryland will have to stay on top of is Flowers (MD), where the staff has made up ground for four-star cornerback Braydon Lee and have become key players for four-star edge rusher Obinna Onwuka, three-star linebacker Kendric Council and three-star tackle Mike Williams.

Elsewhere on the staff, I’m still hearing that Pep Hamilton is on board in an analyst role where he’ll be in and out of the building but able to add his mark to the offensive side of the ball. Former Washington lineman Chris Samuels is also helping offensive line coach Brian Braswell with his position group, while Navorro Bowman has been in the building dating back to the end of last season.

In terms of upcoming visitors, Maryland will host a group of prospects out of Rock Creek (MD) on Tuesday headlined by 2025 WR Geo Kontosis and 2026 DL Lamarcus Dillard. Milford Mill (MD) three-star quarterback Deshawn Purdie initially set his visit to Maryland for April 1, but told IBG he’ll make another trip and is slated to visit on Tuesday. Jones (FL) four-star defensive lineman D’antre Robinson and UCF three-star DL verbal Sincere Edwards will also visit Maryland on Tuesday while the staff hosts several more from the Sunshine State this week. Four-star safety Brandon Jacob, and Phillips (FL) three-star safety Jashad Presley will visit Maryland this week. Edgewater (FL) WR Cai Bates will also fly to Maryland on Tuesday and begin a two-day unofficial visit beginning Wednesday. Maryland has extensive ties around both Jacobs and Bates’ camps, while Sincere Edwards has kept the Terps in his top group despite his commitment. D’antre Robinson, meanwhile, hails from the same school that produced Maryland signee Dylan Wade. The mentioned group are prime out-of-state targets for Maryland in the 2024 cycle.

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