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With an opportunity to retool his coaching staff, head coach Jim McElwain may have decided to shake up both sides of ball for the Florida Gators. McElwain plans to hire Alabama offensive analyst Mike Locksley as an assistant, according to FootballScoop.com.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 30, 2016
Filling a coaching position opened by the departure of defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, Locksley would join the Gators fresh off his stint with the Crimson Tide, where he helped Alabama’s offense behind the scenes. Prior to that, he was offensive coordinator at Maryland (2012-15), improving the Terrapins’ offense each of his first three years with the program before seeing a decline during a 3-9 season in 2015.
Locksley, 47, is a Washington, D.C., native who has coached in college for 25 years, including a two-season stint with Florida from 2003-04 as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator under then-head coach Ron Zook. Locksley would be a candidate to take over recruiting coordinator duties for the Gators if Randy Shannon is promoted to defensive coordinator.
Florida’s recruiting classes ranked No. 1 and No. 5 nationally in Locksley’s two seasons, falling to No. 12 after Zook’s firing ahead of the 2005 campaign.
After his time at UF, Locksley followed Zook as offensive coordinator at Illinois (2005-08), where he improved the Illini offense every season from 108th in 2005 to 40th in 2008 and recruited a number of talented playmakers on both sides of the ball, including Arrelious Benn and Vontae Davis — both D.C. natives. He parlayed that success into his only head coaching job at New Mexico, where he went 2-26 in three seasons from 2009-11.
Locksley earned $650,000 annually coordinating Maryland’s offense, making him the 14th-highest paid assistant in 2015. He took a substantial pay cut last season to work under Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin at Alabama, earning $45,000 as an analyst, according to AL.com.
Locksley could also potentially split offensive coordinating duties with current assistant Doug Nussmeier, who received praise after the season from McElwain — and Saban for that matter — despite earning criticism from fans. He could also serve in a role similar to the one Shannon had under Collins as a “co-coordinator” without a specific side of the ball listed on his title.
Should McElwain make no other changes to the staff, it is conceivable that running backs coach Tim Skipper could move over to defense to coach linebackers, the position Shannon was responsible for the past two seasons.