In Gilman's Kai Locksley, Maryland's Mike Locksley has top recruit under his own roof

Top dual-threat quarterback considering Terps, but recruitment has a personal touch for father and son

June 13, 2014|By Don Markus | The Baltimore Sun

Mike Locksley always has tried to play one role with his four children: dad.

The Maryland football team's offensive coordinator has been successful in that regard with his daughter, Kori, an Olympic Development Program soccer player who already has eight Division I scholarship offers after her freshman year at Olney's Good Counsel High.

His three sons have been a different story.

Having already coached his two oldest in college — Michael Jr. at Illinois and Meiko at New Mexico, each for two seasons — Locksley now is weighing the possibility of coaching his youngest son.

But when it comes to Kai Locksley, he has to avoid a role that has brought him much acclaim in his coaching career: recruiter. Under NCAA rules, Locksley, like all college coaches, is not allowed to publicly discuss Kai Locksley's recruitment until he signs a national letter of intent. He is allowed to attend his son's games as a parent during recruiting "dead periods," a privilege not afforded other coaches. And when he talks to his son about college, it as a parent, not as a recruiter.

"I never put pressure on them to play sports, but my wife would say to me, 'Just the fact of you being a coach and them wanting to please you puts that added pressure on them,' " Locksley said Wednesday at the family's Howard County home. "It's been a little tough to navigate.

"I never pushed. I was never that dad that was getting them up at 6 a.m. and saying, 'Let's get out and throw, let's get out and run.' I always told them, 'If you want that help, I'm here.' Once they reached the ninth and 10th grade, that's when they started asking for help and training. It's fun to be a dad, though."

The balancing act has become increasingly difficult now that Kai Locksley, a 6-foot-4 dual-threat quarterback considered among the best high school prospects in the country going into his senior year at Gilman, has listed Maryland among the six schools he is considering.

"I told Randy I'd like to step away. I'll be the dad, you need to recruit Mom. She handles all the academic stuff. She's been the one that does the day-to-day things, getting him to practice. I'm busy taking care of other people's kids," Mike Locksley said.

Mother knows best

According to Gilman coach Biff Poggi, Edsall has taken the lead role in recruiting Kai Locksley, with help from new wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell.

Poggi said the experience of coaching his three sons at Gilman, then watching each go on to play Division I football, makes him believe Kia Locksley could play a major role in her son's recruitment.

"She's weighing whether it's a healthy situation for a child to be coached by his father, whether it's a healthy situation for a father to coach a child, especially in such a high-focused program," Poggi said.

"She's not caught up in the middle of recruiting that the boy is, and she's not caught up in the pressure of recruiting that Mike is. She has a very clear picture of what's best for both people who she loves."

Kia Locksley has been more involved in Kai's recruitment than his father, taking him on the majority of his unofficial visits, including one to Maryland.

"At this juncture, my son is a priority," Kia Locksley said. "I try to insulate him a little bit from everything else so that he can make just an informed decision, no pressure. Social media puts a lot of pressure on him. Mike and I have been married for 22 years. I feel like he'll be there [regardless of the decision]. I try to protect my son, first and foremost."

Mike Locksley planned an out-of-town recruiting trip of his own for the day Kia and Kai were in College Park. Yet since Edsall offered Kai his first Division I scholarship, in September 2012, the possibility of him playing for his father and the Terps has grown only more real.

It has surfaced not only on social media, where Kai recently announced on Twitter a short list of schools that also includes defending national champion Florida State, as well as perennial powers Ohio State, Oregon and Texas, but also when the Lockleys gather with other family for Sunday dinner.

It could happen at the family's annual Father's Day get-together this weekend. On two previous gatherings, Kai Lockley's grandmother told him: 'Just go play for your dad, like the rest of them."

Kia Locksley said that, aside from an occasional mention by other family members, discussion of the pros and cons of Kai Locksley's going to Maryland "we pretty much ignore — for now. It's there. We we know it's there, and that has a different set of issues we need to discuss compared to the other schools."

Kai Locksley, an All-Metro second-team pick last fall, said he didn't begin to think much about recruiting until after he finished his junior year at Gilman, his first as the team's starting quarterback after succeeding current Terp Shane Cockerille.

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