Nearly four months after Maryland hired Michael Locksley to lead its football program, Locksley and his staff have finally begun working with Terrapins players in an on-field capacity. Every member of the coaching staff is new and the Terps will add more pieces to the team in coming months, but Locksley said coaching his first practice of the spring Tuesday came naturally.
The primary goals of these five weeks of spring practice are to pinpoint playmakers and establish base systems, said Locksley, who also said he is taking more of a “big-picture approach.”
“I did like the organization, and the kids kind of knew where to go,” Locksley said. “I felt like they had a good understanding of what we were trying to get accomplished. Obviously, Day 1, there’s going to be a lot mistakes, but that’s why we practice. Excited about this, the opportunity to start spring. I know the guys are ready to do football. Today was a good start.”
Locksley, who plans to hand play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery, said the team will run a similar offense to what Alabama used when Locksley was the offensive coordinator there. Locksley said he will still be “heavily involved” in the game-planning.
There won’t be many answers during spring practice at the quarterback position. Former Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson announced in February that he will transfer to Maryland, but he is still in Blacksburg finishing his degree. Locksley added four-star quarterback Lance LeGendre to the 2019 recruiting class, but no rising freshmen enrolled early.
“When we get into our day-to-day practice, techniques and fundamentals, we want to install it, let those guys get on film to see exactly what it looks like to make corrections,” Locksley said. “And once we’re able to get everybody here, including the guys that we signed or the guys that will be here this summer, obviously we’ll be able to evaluate it then.”
The only quarterbacks participating Tuesday were Tyrrell Pigrome, who started the final two games last season after Kasim Hill tore his ACL; Max Bortenschlager, who played after both Pigrome and Hill tore their ACLs in 2017; and Tyler DeSue, a redshirt freshman. Hill announced he entered his name into the transfer portal in February, but he remains on Maryland’s roster at the start of the spring. After his injury late in the season, however, the timeline for his recovery would make it difficult for him to be healthy enough to play in 2019. Locksley said he is in frequent communication with Hill, who is still involved with the program academically and for his rehabilitation.
Maryland lost three starters on the offensive line, a position Locksley called a bit thin Tuesday. But at the first spring practice, offensive line coach John Reagan appeared to have a group of contributors in place. From left to right, Jaelyn Duncan, Sean Christie, Johnny Jordan, Terrance Davis and Marcus Minor practiced together, but Locksley stopped short of calling anybody a presumed starter.
“We don’t have starting spots,” Locksley said. “We have starting points. Those things will continue to change. We have a starting point for how to start a practice. At some point, somebody’s going to have to go out there first.”
While the Terps are still waiting for their incoming freshmen to arrive, the team did have a couple of transfers who are already enrolled: linebacker Keandre Jones from Ohio State and cornerback Sean Savoy from Virginia Tech. (Tight end Tyler Mabry from Buffalo, another transfer, has not yet enrolled.)
Savoy, who played wide receiver for the Hokies, changed positions when he transferred given Maryland’s needs and depth at wide receiver. Savoy will be applying for a hardship waiver that would grant him immediate eligibility.
As Locksley takes over a program that was consumed by turmoil last season after the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, the coach said he wants to establish a culture of accountability, and he believes a program needs to be disciplined to be successful.
“What I’ve seen out of all our guys right now is that all the challenges and all the things we’ve put in front of them from a work ethic standpoint, I really like the energy of the team,” Locksley said. “I like the way these guys have bought in. There hasn’t been any pushback as a coaching staff coming in. … They’ve all really bought into what we’re selling them in what it takes for us to have a successful program.”