With New Football Facility, Maryland Shows It’s Serious About Elevating Program

When the Maryland flag-patterned curtain fell and Terps football players were finally able to lay eyes on their new strength and conditioning room, they celebrated like their team had just scored a game-winning touchdown. They hooted and hollered and scattered across the brand-new floor. One guy grabbed a bar off the rack and started doing squats.

There was no shortage of these moments as Maryland, at long last, unveiled the completed Jones-Hill House — the new state-of-the-art home of the Terps’ football program — Friday, June 4. All 126 lockers in the new locker room have recliners with built-in wireless phone chargers. There’s a display of nearly every helmet the Terps have ever donned. There’s a barber shop in the players’ lounge that turns into a DJ station. And that’s just on the ground floor.

It was a day nearly six years in the making, as renovation of Cole Field House, Maryland basketball’s former home, began in 2015. A stunning indoor practice field on the site of the old basketball court has been active since summer 2017, but the rest of the project is finally here. By all accounts, it’s well worth the wait.

“For me, it’s like Christmas in June,” Terps head coach Michael Locksley said. “To see this come to fruition and the vision that Maryland has, this is a statement that we are serious about football, and I’m excited to be a part [of it] and lead the charge for it.”

The enormity of the whole thing is eye-popping, especially in relation to its predecessor. The strength and conditioning room, at 24,000 square feet, is roughly four times the size of Maryland’s previous weight room in Gossett Team House. The dining area, at 10,000 square feet, is three times the size of the existing team cafeteria. With the new building ready for use, the first floor of Gossett will be refurbished and become an academic center for all Maryland student-athletes.

“When we brought Coach Locksley back to be our head coach, one of the things that we promised him was that we would provide the necessary resources here at the University of Maryland so we could have championship success,” athletic director Damon Evans said. “He believes in excellence; I believe in excellence. But when you take a look at this facility here, the interesting thing about it is this … they’re within 100 yards of being able to compete, practice, get rehab, all the things that they need to do to be successful.”

The Terps’ new locker room acts as a central hub for the ground level — it’s a short walk to the indoor field, the weight room and the players’ lounge (not to mention the small theatre featuring posters with Testudo on them). It’s a slightly further walk to a 40,000-square-foot sports medicine area, which will be available to all student-athletes and features two plunge pools, a Hydroworks pool and specific areas for treatment, rehab and taping.

A quick trip up the stairs leads to two outdoor grass practice fields and a main floor filled with meeting rooms for offense, defense and every position group, as well as a massive 196-seat auditorium. The main lobby sits on the other side of this level and features a video wall, touch screens, mannequins and more.

The second floor of the building is the administrative level, featuring coaches’ offices, meeting areas and a recruiting room that apparently features a throne (this was not part of the media tour). The dining area sits on the third floor and features a massive pizza oven they’ll tell you is helmet-shaped.

The new facility is named in honor of Billy Jones and Darryl Hill, the first Black basketball and football players at Maryland, respectively. Jones and Hill were both on hand to see the building later in the evening. (Hill is on the left in the picture.)

The bells and whistles, the little details and the homages to Maryland’s past are a treat to look at. But the important part of this project is the investment it signals. Jones-Hill House ultimately cost $149.3 million, Evans said. It not only sends the message that the school is serious about wanting to elevate its football program, but it also provides an example for further updates to athletic facilities in the future.

“This is the standard for Maryland,” Evans said. “This is the standard that we have to set when we build facilities here for our student-athletes. … We talk about inspiring Maryland pride. This inspires pride.”

In a college football landscape where anything and everything is a recruiting chip, this facility has been used as such ever since plans were first announced. Sophomore wide receiver Rakim Jarrett, who signed with Maryland in the 2020 class, first heard the pitch when he was an eighth-grader. Facilities, of course, are only a small part of selling a program. But now that this building is real and the investment is visible, the current players are eager to put it to use.

“Everybody loves something new,” Jarrett said. “We’re the first people to use it, so it feels like it’s an extra motivation almost. Gotta do right by it.”

For those skeptical of major universities spending this much on sports, there might be nothing Maryland can do to justify the cost of this project. It’s impossible to quantify the impact Jones-Hill House will have on the program; too many other factors go into win-loss records and recruiting rankings and attendance. On the flip side, though, there’s no price tag on years and years of those jaw-dropping moments when someone sees the place for the first time. There’s no price tag on having a home to be proud of.

It’s easy to look at the landscape of the Big Ten and see a daunting path toward Maryland becoming a consistently successful football program. But those in the building believe they can change the standard, and now it’s clear the administration believes that as well. At the core of all that celebrating in the new weight room is an excitement about the program’s future, a belief in what it can be. Now it’s on the players and staff to make it happen.

“This isn’t, ‘We hit the lottery and it’s time for us to lay back and enjoy the fruits of hitting the lottery,'” Locksley said. “This building really shows the investment [from Maryland’s administration]. … It’s really important that our players understand that excellence is the standard and we’re looking forward. As I like to say, the best is ahead.”

Photo Credit: Thomas Kendziora/PressBox

Thomas Kendziora

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