COLLEGE PARK — — Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown is leaving to assume the same position at Connecticut, a big loss for a Terrapins defense that had become one of the Atlantic Coast Conference's best at applying pressure and forcing turnovers.
Brown, 55, the former University of Massachusetts coach lured to Maryland by former coach Ralph Friedgen before the 2009 season, is leaving to be closer to his family and New England roots.
"His wife never moved down here and I asked him, 'Hey, why don't they move down?' And he said, 'They won't move,'" Maryland coach Randy Edsall said in an interview. "Don had talked about his family before. His daughter just had a baby.
"I thought he was a good coach," said Edsall, who will begin searching immediately for a replacement. "One coach or player doesn't make a program."
Maryland was second in the ACC to Virginia Tech in turnover margin at plus-15. Maryland was also second in red-zone defense, behind only Miami.
"I am happy to have the opportunity to be coaching back in New England at the highest level at the University of Connecticut," Brown said in a statement released by Connecticut. "My family is in New England and I am looking forward to being there. I am excited in working with Coach [Paul] Pasqualoni and his tremendous defensive experience will only help me learn and grow as a coach."
Pasqualoni — a former Syracuse coach with years of NFL experience — replaced Edsall as Connecticut's coach.
Neither Brown nor his agent responded to messages left on their cell phones.
Brown had originally said he hoped to stay at Maryland after Friedgen was ousted "to finish what I started." He worried privately that his defensive style might not mesh with that of Edsall, whose background is also in defense. Brown uses multiple blitz packages, rotating in more players than are commonly used on college defenses. It's an unusual defense, and there is a learning curve.
Brown, however, was retained by Edsall along with offensive line coach Tom Brattan, wide receivers coach Lee Hull and assistant recruiting coordinator Ryan Steinberg.
Brown can be emotional and animated. Among last season's memorable moments was Brown meeting senior Adrian Moten at the bench after the season-opening win over Navy and cradling the linebacker's face in his arm. Moten was distraught over the recent death of his father.
Brown was an important recruiter for Maryland in Florida and elsewhere.
His departure was difficult not only for Maryland, but for those he recruited who signed letters of intent that were announced last Wednesday on National Signing Day.
"He was the biggest reason I was going to go and play there," said Makinton Dorleant, a cornerback from Lely High in Naples, Fla. "I really liked his defensive scheme. He knew everything about me and my style of play. Now somebody else is going to come in that I don't know, and I most likely won't know. It's going to be a big change. But I'm just going to keep competing harder and harder."
Maryland was alerting recruits of Brown's decision Friday.
"The Maryland coaches called, probably about an hour before you called me," said Matt Dixon, coach at Felix Varela High in Miami, home of Terps cornerback signee Undray Clark. "And we let Undray know soon after that. He was shocked, a little disappointed, but he loved Maryland, loved the program. So it's not going to affect anything he does. He was very disappointed. Coach Brown and he were really close."
Another signee — safety Lukas Foreman of Naples (Fla.) High — said Brown "was one of the main reasons" he chose Maryland. "He was the big one. But it was academics, [and College Park was] a good place — a nice place I wanted to be, and he just made it better."
In addition to replacing Brown, Edsall is also expected to soon hire a replacement for running backs coach David Walker, now with the Indianapolis Colts.
Baltimore Sun reporter Matt Bracken contributed to this article.