Since Michael Locksley took over as head coach, the Maryland football program has competed with some of the most successful programs in the country for recruits despite struggling on the field — and Corey Coley Jr. is the latest recruit to choose the Terps instead of a national power.
Coley, who attends Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Fla., is a consensus three-star defensive back in the Class of 2021. He chose the Terps instead of top programs like LSU, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. Coley wanted to create his own legacy instead of following a more traditional path and take advantage of what Maryland offers off the field.
“I just felt that it was adequate for all my needs — not even just in terms of football. I was thinking about the long term,” Coley said on Glenn Clark Radio July 28. “Being in the Baltimore area, the DMV area, being in one of the largest markets in America, I felt it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up on.”
Coley finished his junior season with 38 tackles and an interception and recorded 50 tackles and three forced fumbles as a sophomore. Coley is listed as a cornerback and safety on recruiting websites, but he sees himself as a cornerback. Still, he’s used to moving around the field as needed.
“I think I’m an outside corner, but in my situation at Trinity it’s get in where you fit in,” Coley said. “… I was showing off my versatility and playing where I could play but I’m an outside corner.”
The Terps have been successful in recruiting transfers and high schoolers since Locksley took over. That group is led by Rakim Jarrett, the No. 4 receiver in the nation for the Class of 2020 (according to 247Sports), and former Alabama quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, who transferred to Maryland in May. The latter is the younger brother of former Alabama and current Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the No. 5 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
“When you pick up big time guys like that without history on your side as a winning program, that shows a lot,” Coley said.
While Maryland doesn’t have the recent success that LSU or Notre Dame offers, it does have one of most respected and well-known universities in the country on the academic side. Coley said he plans to major in either finance or accounting. Coley said what Maryland offered academically factored into his decision.
Another advantage the Terps have is Locksley. Coley is aware of his track record and felt that his knowledge would benefit him at the next level. Locksley has nearly 30 years of coaching experience and came to Maryland after serving as the offensive coordinator under Nick Saban at Alabama.
Locksley was awarded the Broyles Award in 2018 as the top assistant coach in college football. Locksley played a role in the development of Tua Tagovailoa and was the co-offensive coordinator when the Crimson Tide won the 2017 national championship. He has coached at several other schools, too, including Florida, Illinois and New Mexico.
“I know where he’s been in the past, he’s coached a lot of good guys and been in a lot of good schools like ’Bama,” said Coley, who is Locksley’s 18th commitment for the Class of 2021. “The experience and knowledge is there, so it’s really just adapting and picking up on that knowledge.”
Despite the lack of wins in recent years, Maryland has had plenty of players not only reach the NFL but play at a high level, including receivers Stefon Diggs and DJ Moore and edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue. In each of the last three drafts, at least two Terps were selected, and the program has had at least one drafted player in eight of the last 10 drafts. That track record was a factor in Coley’s decision. He said Locksley emphasized their recent success of sending players to the pros in the recruiting process.
Coley said that he will be the first member of his family to attend a big school like Maryland, and he hopes to capitalize on this opportunity both on and off the field.
“It means a lot, that’s really my motivation,” Coley said. “I just want to open doors for them, so I’m blessed.”
For more from Coley, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Corey Coley Jr.