In his first full week as Maryland’s new head football coach, Randy Edsall was busy putting together a coaching staff and reaffirming commitments from current recruits.
Edsall moved quickly to retain defensive coordinator Don Brown, a fan favorite, and wide receivers coach Lee Hull. His swift actions have benefitted on the recruiting trail as well. Many of the 23 prospects that pledged the old regime have voiced their approval of the new head coach. Though important positions such as offensive coordinator remain open, the coaching staff Randy Edsall is slowly putting together is impressive, and his first hires from outside of the program are sure to pay dividends in the long haul.
Two of his new hires come from the University of Pittsburgh and the third from Connecticut. Pittsburgh’s coaching staff was one of the better groups in the Big East, but when the school forced Dave Wandstedt to resign after six years, the status of his assistants was left up in the air.
Then, the man hired to replace Wannstedt was fired after 16 days on the job due to a domestic dispute, further clouding the futures of the Panther assistants. As the uncertainty surrounding Pittsburgh’s football program persisted, Edsall was able to snap up two of their top assistant coaches.
One of those was David Walker, a running backs coach with an impressive track record. Walker is a strong recruiter who consistently lands three and four-star talent from New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania plus he’s a great position coach too. Walker recruited and then developed LeSean McCoy into one of the top running backs in the Big East. McCoy is now the starting running back for the Philadelphia Eagles, and this past season put together nearly 1,600 yards of total offesnse. Impressive stats, especially when you consider it was McCoy’s first season as a full-time NFL starter.
In 2009 and 2010, Walker worked closely with future NFL prospects Dion Lewis and Ray Graham. Lewis and Graham combined for nearly 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns to help carry the 2010 offense. In 2009, Lewis ran for over 1,600 yards, 17 touchdowns and won Big East Offensive Player of the Year, as well as being selected as a second team All-American. Walker’s presence at Maryland should be felt immediately as the Terps have a stable of talented running backs. Look for big 2011 campaigns from senior Davin Meggett and sophomore D.J. Adams.
Greg Gattuso also comes over from Pittsburgh, and he takes over as the defensive line coach. Gattuso is an excellent recruiter and position coach, and he brings an extraordinary resume to College Park.
Before arriving at Pittsburgh, Gattuso spent nine years as Duquesne’s head coach where he led the Dukes to eight conference titles, a national championship and left as the school’s all-time leader in wins with 97.
In 2009, Gattuso coached three All-Big East defensive linemen. That same year, defensive end Greg Romeus and tackle Mike Williams shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year award. In the past three seasons, Pittsburgh has ranked in the Top Three in the Big East in sacks, and that is an area the Terps would love to improve on. Gattuso is an aggressive recruiter in the western part of Pennsylvania, and like Walker, consistently lands three and four-star talent.
Lyndon Johnson follows Coach Edsall from Storrs, and he’s been tabbed to coach both linebackers and special teams. An alumnus of Connecticut, Johnson spent 12 seasons at his alma mater and was impactful in building the UConn program into a Football Bowl Subdivision team.
He recruits the state of Georgia, an area the Terps have had some success in during recent years with outgoing offensive line coach Tom Brattan. Though his resume isn’t as impressive as former Terps linebacker coach Al Seamonson, Johnson did coach a formidable unit of linebackers while at UConn, plus his special team squads were outstanding. In 2007, during UConn’s run to the Big East Championship, Johnson’s returners took two kick offs and two punts to the house. In 2009, the team ran three kickoffs back for touchdowns, and according to GoHuskies.com, the feat was achieved for the first time in team history.
Ultimately, judgment on Randy Edsall’s coaching staff will be held until an offensive coordinator is hired, but he’s off to a great start as he fills the other coaching slots. The new additions share very similar qualities in that they can develop talent and recruit it too.
Under the tutelage of David Walker, look for Maryland’s running back core to step up next year and help balance the offensive attack. The Terps had a young defensive line in 2010, but the group showed flashes of becoming a great unit. Greg Gattuso has the experience and the ability to turn them into a force in Don Brown’s blitzing defense. Finally, special teams are in the hands of veteran coach Lyndon Johnson. If Johnson was able to turn the UConn special teams into an explosive element of their attack, it’s scary to think what might become of the Terps next year with Tony Logan returning kicks.