Locksley to join Hall of Famers for Quarterback Coaching Summit

By The Sports Pulse Staff

Courtesy photo

COLLEGE PARK – University of Maryland head football coach Michael Locksley is gearing up to take part in the third annual Quarterback Coaching Summit, which will take place virtually from June 22-23.

In partnership with the NFL and the Black College Football Hall of Fame, the two-day program will allow an opportunity for NFL and NCAA assistant coaches to experience professional development and networking opportunities. The program focuses on providing development opportunities for minority coaches on the offensive side of the ball.

“This is my third year being part of this outstanding program that gives minority coaches a great opportunity to learn and make connections,” said Locksley.

“I realized early in my coaching career that I wanted to create offensive schemes and be part of that side of the ball. That switch has provided me so many opportunities throughout my career and I relish in the opportunity to pay it back by not only being part of this summit, but also being available to any of these guys as they progress in their careers.”

Locksley spent his first four years in the coaching ranks on the defensive side of the ball before becoming Army’s wide receiver/tight ends coach in 1996. Locksley then coached running backs at Maryland and Florida before landing his first offensive coordinator job at Illinois in 2005. Locksley also coached quarterbacks at both Illinois (2006-08) and Maryland (2012-15).

“The Quarterback Summit brings together the brightest, most innovative and successful offensive minds from around the country,” said Troy Vincent, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations. “From professional development to networking to coaching best practices, this summit should leave no doubt about the promising pipeline of championship play callers within the sport of football.”

The Quarterback Coaching Summit is one of several NFL programs intended to build the coaching and personnel development pipeline and strengthen diversity across the league. In its third year, the program will feature sessions and panels led by NFL owners, current and former NFL coaches, and college football coaches including: Pittsburgh Steelers president and NFL Workplace Diversity Committee chair Art Rooney II, Buffalo Bills president Kim Pegula, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, and Buffalo Bills assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.

Sessions will focus on varying topics including building a coaching staff, quarterback position fundamentals, and other best practices for career advancement. Attendees will also have an opportunity to hear from and network with members of the NFL’s Workplace Diversity Committee. New this year, past NFL Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship participants were also invited to attend, continuing pipeline candidate’s relationship with the league.

“We are excited to continue this partnership with the National Football League as qualified coaches and executives come together to advance their careers,” said Doug Williams, co-founder of the Black College Football Hall of Fame (BCFHOF).

The 2019 Quarterback Coaching Summit was hosted at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. In its first year as an NFL co-sponsored event, the Summit connected three dozen participants with NFL club coaches and executives to help identify and develop more diverse candidates for offensive coaching positions.

Four-star guard commits to the Terrapins

By Brooks Warren/The Sports Pulse Contributor

Courtesy photo

BALTIMORE – University of Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon and his coaching staff have added yet another talented basketball player to their 2021 recruit class.

Baltimore native and 6-foot-6 guard Ike Cornish announced his commitment to the Terrapins on Twitter, Tuesday afternoon (June 9).

Before transferring to Legacy Early College in Greenville, South Carolina, Cornish, who spent his first two prep seasons at Dulaney High School, hopes to stand out while playing a national schedule. 

Despite his junior season being cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cornish averaged 13.3 points per game and hit 35% of his 3-pointers, according to MaxPreps.

He was rated as a four-star prospect and the no. 77 overall player in the country according to his 247 sports composite ranking. Cornish picked Maryland over offers from Rutgers, Virginia Tech, St. John’s University, Xavier, and Georgetown. 

Cornish joins Julian Reese, a forward out St. Francis Academy in Baltimore City who committed to the Terps in early May. The commitment by the two prep stars continues a Baltimore pipeline that Turgeon has forged after his successful recruitment of Darryl Morsell and Jalen Smith, two Mount Saint Joseph products.

UMD outlines gradual, phased launch for safe return of student-athletes

By The Sports Pulse Staff

COLLEGE PARK – Maryland Athletics announced today details for a gradual, phased return to campus for student-athletes and staff.

Recently, the state of Maryland and Prince George’s County announced phased reopening of certain activities, which now allows Maryland Athletics to begin Phase 1 activities, focused on maintaining the health, safety, and well-being of student-athletes and staff.

These activities are restricted to the resumption of individual, voluntary workouts by football student-athletes only, supervised by a select number of sports medicine staff. Football student-athletes are permitted to return to campus on June 8 for pre-participation medical screenings. Voluntary, individual workouts may begin June 15.

“Our gradual, phased approach prioritizes the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff,” said Damon Evans, Director of Athletics. “We remain optimistic about the return of fall sports, and this plan will serve as our cautious and considered roadmap to the resumption of athletic competition.”

Phase 1 includes significant new measures to ensure the health, safety and well-being of student-athletes and staff:

  • Prior to the return of student-athletes and staff, all facilities will be prepared with deep cleaning, disinfection, and engineered physical distancing.
  • Prior to returning to campus, student-athletes must self-report to be symptom-free for at least 14 days prior to return and have had no known contacts with any positive COVID-19 case.
  • Prior to the resumption of any athletic activities, student-athletes will be subject to a COVID-19 diagnostic test, a complete physical examination and mental health screening. 
  • Each student-athlete will undergo a complete daily COVID-19 wellness check prior to entering athletic facilities at a designated checkpoint. This screening will include, but not be limited to completion of a symptom questionnaire and a temperature check.
  • Before beginning voluntary workouts, each student-athlete will participate in educational activities to review the recommended COVID-19 prevention best practices and give them an opportunity to ask questions regarding the current situation and hear others’ questions.
  • All voluntary individual workouts will be held outside under supervision.  The usage of indoor facilities, including weight rooms, locker rooms, lounges, meeting rooms, and dining halls will be restricted during Phase 1. 
  • Each student-athlete and staff member will be provided two face-coverings, but may also bring their own personal face-coverings. Everyone will be required to wear a face-covering as directed. Physical distancing will be enforced and proper hygiene, including frequent handwashing and the use of hand sanitizers, will be strongly encouraged.
  • Strict staff-to-student-athlete ratios will be enforced for all activities. 
  • Only a select number of staff may return to campus during Phase 1, limited to sports medicine, strength, and facilities personnel needed to facilitate the individual, voluntary workouts.
  • All participation in the individual training permitted during Phase 1 is voluntary. No student-athlete will be required to be on-campus for these voluntary workouts.
  • Any student-athlete concerned about their health may opt-out of any training, practice, and competition and this will not affect his or her scholarship status.

Maryland Athletics’ gradual, phased approach has been developed in close cooperation with State and County guidelines, shaped by NCAA and Big Ten Conference protocols, and authored by University sports medicine staff. The plan is subject to change as health conditions and guidance from health officials continues to evolve.

University of Maryland Football student-athletes are permitted to return to campus on June 8 for pre-participation medical screenings. Voluntary, individual workouts may begin June 15. Photo by Michael Smith/The Sports Pulse

“We have developed a holistic approach to the health and safety of student-athletes for the Maryland Athletics program,” said Dr. Yvette Rooks, Head Team Physician and Assistant Director of University Health Center for Sports Medicine. “This approach includes diagnostic screening for COVID-19 which will include antibody screening, daily symptom checks, and educational training and reflects our absolute focus on the physical and mental well-being of the student-athletes.”

Subsequent phases of more permissible activities, indoor training, larger groups and additional teams are being developed. There is no predetermined timetable for the advancement through phases as it will be determined by state, county, and university health officials, and implemented only when it is deemed safe to do so.

Tommy Akingbesote commits to play football at UMD

By Harry Lichtman/The Sports Pulse Contributor

SPRINGDALE – Charles Herbert Flowers high school football star Tommy Akingbesote announced his verbal commitment to play at the University of Maryland on Wednesday night.

Akingbesote is a four-star defensive tackle at Flowers, who is part of the Class of 2021 and will play his senior season in 2020 before heading off to College Park.

“I feel great,” said Akingbesote. “I’m happy to be a Terp.”

The rising senior made his announcement on Twitter, via a 44-second video showing various logos of colleges that showed interest in him, and a poster with his Maryland commitment at the end, with Meek Mill’s song “Dreams and Nightmares” playing in the background.

Akingbesote is just another one of the DMV’s elite high school players committing to a local school, such as Our Lady of Good Counsel and UMD alum Stefon Diggs.

On 247Sports.com, the four-star defensive tackle has a 93 rating, while on Rivals.com, he has a 5.5 rating.

“The DMV raises young stars,” said Akingbesote. “I believe you should want to put on a show for your hometown.”

According to a scouting report, Barton Simmons, 247Sports Director of Scouting, described Akingbesote as a “long-armed, athletic-framed interior defender with big hands and the type of body that will need to add weight but has significant capacity to do it.”

Besides Maryland, East Carolina, Oklahoma, Penn State, and Virginia Tech thought he would be a good fit for their respective programs.

“The DMV raises young stars,” said Akingbesote. “I believe you should want to go on a show for your hometown.”

One person pleased about Akingbesote’s decision is Jaguars head coach Dameon Powell, who coached him during the 2019 season.

“I was excited for him,” said Powell. “He always wanted to stay home and be with his family and friends here, so it’s not surprising at all.”
The defensive tackle spent his freshman year at DeMatha Catholic High School before transferring to Flowers in Springdale.

However, Akingbesote was a late bloomer as basketball was his primary sport; he only started playing football in junior high school.

“When I first met him, he was on the basketball court,” said Powell. “He played football before, but he was also playing basketball. He showed us a lot. His athletic abilities, his weight, the way he can move from sideline to sideline, and the way he can move up the field.”

Akingbesote also loved playing for Powell, as he shows significant positivity around him.

“It feels great,” said Akingbesote, “because he makes sure you’re good on the field, off the field, and in the future. Also, playing for him just excites me because his drive to win is 100,000, so he always has positive energy.”
Heading into his senior season, Akingbesote’s goals are to “dominate his opponent” and to win States.

“It’s a big year,” said Akingbesote, “because I’m not just representing my high school, I’m just representing Maryland as well, so now I have to prove a point.”

“He’s got a lot to learn,” said Powell. “Once he starts to understand everything, he’s going to be a star.”

One of Akingbestote’s football idols is Chase Young, who also went to DeMatha and will begin his NFL career with the Washington Redskins in fall 2020.

Terps welcome Alabama transfer Taulia Tagovailoa to the quarterback room

By The Sports Pulse Staff

COLLEGE PARK, Md. University of Maryland football coach Michael Locksley has announced quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa has joined the Terrapin football program.

Tagovailoa, a unanimous four-star prospect out of high school, comes to Maryland from the University of Alabama and has three years of eligibility remaining.

“Taulia has outstanding field vision and excellent pocket awareness,” said Locksley. “He’s a twitchy passer that has the ability to make and extend plays in and outside of the pocket because of his above-average athleticism. Taulia has terrific touch and trajectory on his throws and delivers the ball with above-average accuracy. He’s a highly competitive player that will bring great competition to a good quarterback room.”

A 5-foot-11, 208-pound quarterback, Tagovailoa finished 9-of-12 for 100 yards in five games played at Alabama during the 2019 season, where the Crimson Tide went 11-2 and won the Citrus Bowl. 

“I’m so excited to start the next chapter of my career at the University of Maryland,” said Tagovailoa. “I’m incredibly grateful to all of the amazing people at Alabama, but am also thrilled to join the Terrapin Football Family. I have a great relationship with Coach Locksley and am excited to see what he’s building. I can’t wait to be part of it and I plan on working incredibly hard both on and off the field to make my family, teammates, coaches and fans proud.”

Before enrolling at Alabama, Tagovailoa was rated as the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the 2019 class by 247Sports and PrepStar. He rewrote the Alabama high school record books, becoming the only quarterback in state history to have at least four 400-yard passing performances in his career, throwing for 3,728 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior at Thompson High School in Alabama. Tagovailoa led Thompson to the 2018 Class 7A state championship and was selected to the Class 7A All-State first team in 2017. 

Taulia is the younger brother of Tua Tagovailoa, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. Tua Tagovailoa led Alabama to the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship with Locksley serving as the Co-Offensive Coordinator. 

The following season, Locksley was promoted to offensive coordinator and Tua Tagovailoa threw for 3,189 yards and a school-record 37 touchdowns as the Crimson Tide offense averaged 47.9 points and 527.6 yards per game. The Locksley-Tua Tagovailoa combination helped Alabama set school records for points scored (623), single-season total offense (6,859 yards) and passing yards (4,231) in a season.

Undrafted Terps, locals sign with NFL teams

By José Umaña/The Sports Pulse Contributor

COLLEGE PARK – Following the results of the 2020 NFL Draft, many talented student-athletes signed with teams after going undrafted. 

Several of those are from or played in the metropolitan area and signed as undrafted free agents getting the chance to fulfill their lifelong dreams of playing professional football. 

Arguably one of the biggest names to go unselected was Javon Leake, the University of Maryland’s No. 1 rusher during the 2019 season. 

He found a home signing with the New York Giants after the draft. As a running back, the Greensboro native posted 736 yards on 102 carries while scoring eight touchdowns during his junior year for the Terps. 

“Thank you @nygiants for giving me an opportunity and making my dream come true,” Leake said on his Instagram page

Leake made his name known with his work as a return specialist as his three kickoff return touchdowns tied a program record. He was awarded the Rodgers-Dwight Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year and named the 2019 First Team All-Big Ten Return Specialist after leading the conference with a 26.8 kick return average. 

Another member of the Maryland offense picked up following the draft was tight end, Tyler Mabry. The 6-foot-4, 248-pounder signed with the Seattle Seahawks after playing out his senior year with the Terrapins following three years with Buffalo. He started all 12 games, caught 13 receptions for 155 yards and scored three touchdowns during his senior year. 

On the defensive side, former DeMatha Catholic High School star Tino Ellis signed with the New Orleans Saints. The Reisterstown native will be joining the 11th ranked defense from last season after posting 71 tackles, 22 pass breakups and one interception during his Maryland career. 

Meanwhile, after having his pro day canceled due to COVID-19, star linebacker Keandre Jones was able to sign a professional contract with the Chicago Bears. The former five-star athlete from Our Lady of Good Counsel High School led the team in sacks (7), forced fumbles (3) and quarterback hits (3) while completing 74 tackles.

Defensive back Marcus Lewis (Gonzaga College High School), linebacker Isaiah Davis (St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes High School), and offensive lineman Sean Christie remain unsigned. 

Offensive lineman Ellis McKennie III was also not picked up but was in good spirits after his father was released from the hospital after spending two and a half weeks in a coma due to the coronavirus.

Other post-draft signees include Upper Marlboro native John Daka returning to his home state to join the Baltimore Ravens. The former Dr. Henry Wise Jr. High School defensive lineman finished his college career ranking fourth all-time in sacks (27.5) at James Madison University.

Former Morgan State University and Suitland High School wide receiver Manasseh Bailey will head north after signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound receiver finished his senior year ranked third in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) in receiving yards (996) and earned All-MEAC honors.

“Hearing that I will be a Philadelphia Eagle for this upcoming season just seems so unreal,” Bailey said. “All my hard work that I’ve been putting into this game is finally paying off. There’s no greater feeling then knowing that your childhood dreams are coming true.”

Illinois running back Reggie Corbin (Gonzaga College High School), Oklahoma cornerback Parnell Motley (HD Woodson) are two local talents that remained unsigned. They will look to join a team or receive a call to tryout during the training camp period.

Former DuVal High School, Maryland playmaker drafted by Steelers

By The Sports Pulse Staff

COLLEGE PARK, Md. University of Maryland defensive back Antoine Brooks Jr. was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft today.

Brooks becomes the second Terrapin chosen in this year’s draft, following the earlier selection of running back Anthony McFarland Jr., who was also taken by the Steelers in the fourth round. Brooks was the 17th safety drafted, selected No. 198 overall.

Maryland has had multiple players drafted in three straight and five of the last six years. The Terps have also had a defensive back selected in three of the last five NFL Drafts as Darnell Savage Jr. was chosen in the first round last year and Sean Davis was taken in the second round of the 2016 draft. 

Brooks, who participated in the Reese’s Senior Bowl, was a Second Team All-Big Ten selection for the second straight year in 2019. The senior led the Big Ten and ranked ninth nationally with 69 solo tackles. He ranked third in the Big Ten among defensive backs with 87 total tackles. Brooks also tied for the team lead with five pass break-ups.

Brooks suffered a gruesome injury during his high school playing career at DuVal High School where he almost had to give up playing the game he loves.

Fortunately for everyone, he bounced back and can now say that he will play in the NFL. Here are some photos from his time at DuVal and the University of Maryland.

Purchase Photos!

McFarland Jr. becomes highest drafted Maryland running back in NFL Draft since LaMont Jordan

By The Sports Pulse Staff

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland running back Anthony McFarland Jr. (DeMatha Catholic High School) was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft earlier today.

McFarland rushed for 1,648 yards and 12 touchdowns in just 23 career games in a Terrapin uniform. The DMV product ended his Maryland career ranking third all-time in program history by averaging 6.7 yards per carry.

A 2018 Second Team All-Big Ten selection, McFarland starred during his redshirt freshman season in College Park, setting Maryland freshman records for rushing yards (1,034), rushing yards in a game (298 vs. Ohio State) and 100-yard rushing games (four).

McFarland was the 12th running back drafted at No. 124 overall. He’s the highest drafted Terrapins running back since LaMont Jordan (Suitland High School) was chosen 49th overall by the New York Jets in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft.

With McFarland’s selection, Maryland has had a player chosen in 24 of the last 26 NFL Drafts. The Terrapins have had a player selected in the first four rounds in three straight years, including placing players in the first round in both 2018 (DJ Moore, Panthers) and 2019 (Darnell Savage Jr., Packers).

Here are some photos taken of the hometown product over the years. Photos by Cory Royster/The Sports Pulse

Purchase Photos!

Terrapins add Hamilton, Smart to 2020 recruiting class

By Brooks Warren/The Sports Pulse Contributor

COLLEGE PARK – The University of Maryland men’s basketball team confirmed the additions of Boston College transfer Jairus Hamilton and incoming freshman Aquan Smart on April 15 as part of its 2020 recruiting class. 

Both players join incoming freshman Marcus Dockery as Head Coach Mark Turgeon looks to reload after losing several key pieces following this year’s regular-season championship year.  

Hamilton has two years of eligibility remaining. He hopes to figure into Maryland’s plans right away if the NCAA approves a rule change that allows student-athletes a one-time transfer without sitting out. The junior forward will bring more experience to the frontcourt with him after notching 54 games and 28 starts for the Eagles in two seasons.  

Che Roth, Hamilton’s head coach at Cannon School, said his ability to play in multiple positions would add a “championship culture” to Turgeon’s roster. 

“Maryland is getting a big-time person and a big-time player. I’ve known Jairus for about eight years now, and he is an awesome human being.” Roth said. “He lights up the room with his personality. He’s a high-level competitor. He will add to the championship culture Coach Turgeon has established at Maryland.”

The transfer provides a welcoming presence to Maryland’s frontcourt after multiple departures from the program. In December, twin brothers Makhi and Makhel Mitchell (Wilson High School) left the program and entered the transfer portal. 

Sophomores Ricky Lindo Jr. and Jalen Smith filled in. However, after the Terrapins’ season was cut short due to the virus, Lindo, a small forward, entered the transfer portal and signed to join George Washington. After a standout sophomore season, Smith elected to forgo his remaining eligibility and declared to the 2020 NBA Draft, leaving Maryland undersized. 

Turgeon said Maryland built a rapport with Hamilton back in high school, which helped in the transfer process, and his skills as a versatile forward will be a food fit for their program. 

“I’m very excited to be coming to College Park this fall. It felt right committing here because of the tradition of winning and the great family bond the community upholds.” Hamilton said. “It’s also a great institution to advance academically. I look forward to playing with a great group of guys and learning from coach Turgeon and his staff.”

As for Smart, the head coach said that the freshman provides size with his 6-foot-3 frame and playmaking skills as a scorer and facilitator.

“I’ve never been more excited for anything than I am to join the Maryland basketball program. Maryland was the right fit for me because of the point guard success they have had and the coaches trusting them so much.” Smart said. “Maryland fans can expect a hard-working player that is going to do anything for the program to hang banners in the rafters.”

The Terps backcourt will have a nice mixture of veterans and youth next season. Future upperclassmen Eric Ayala and Darryl Morsell will bring leadership. At the same time, guards Serrel Smith and Hakim Hart will provide fierce competition for backcourt minutes for their new freshman teammates. 

Smith declares for NBA Draft

By Brooks Warren/The Sports Pulse Contributor

COLLEGE PARK – University of Maryland sophomore forward Jalen Smith announced on Instagram that he will forgo his final two seasons of eligibility after declaring for NBA Draft.

He led the Terps to a regular-season Big Ten Conference title finishing with a 24-7 record after the season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Thank you to Terp Nation,” Smith said. “We were 16-1 at home due to your support and energy you brought every game. I’ll cherish forever celebrating the Big 10 championship with you.”

According to multiple reports, Smith is projected to land in 22-30 range after he built upon an impressive freshman campaign, averaging 15.5 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game.

Smith led the conference (and finished third in the country) with 21 double-doubles. Smith also collected first-team All-Big Ten honors and was an Associated Press third-team All-American while finishing as a top-10 finalist for the Naismith Player of the Year award and top-five finalist for the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year award.

With the sophomore forwards announcement comes some questions in the frontcourt for the Terrapins. The depth in the frontcourt has been depleted after sophomore forward Ricky Lindo Jr. entered the transfer portal. The highly touted Mitchell twins, Makhi and Makhel, also left the program in December and recently announced their commitment to the University of Rhode Island.

Only Donta Scott, Joshua Tomaic, and Chol Marial will be coming back for Terps to maintain their depth. Former Boston College forward Jairus Hamilton’s recent commitment will help to resolve some of the questions as well. Aaron Wiggins, Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year, and Darryl Morsell’s return at the wing spots will help mitigate the loss of Anthony Cowan Jr. to graduation as well as the signing of incoming freshman point guard Marcus Dockery.