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Baltimore to host Maryland and Morgan State football practice in ‘outside of the box’ event

Maryland and Morgan State football have met only once, and that game took place Sept. 11, 2010. That trend won’t end next season, but the schools are collaborating on the next best thing.

The Terps and Bears will practice at Morgan State’s Hughes Stadium in Baltimore on Saturday. Morgan State will take the field at 11 a.m., and Maryland will begin at 2 p.m. Both practices are open to the public, and several players will stick around to interact with fans.

Dubbed “Baltimore Day,” the event is intended to cultivate excitement in and around the city for both programs and persuade potential recruits to consider staying home.

“It’s our job to promote football in the state,” Terps coach Mike Locksley said. “That’s one of our responsibilities as the flagship university of the state. And there’s enough room for all of us in this state to support each other and be supportive.”

Said Bears coach Damon Wilson: “It’s two state schools giving our community here in Baltimore an opportunity to see [a Football Bowl Subdivision] program [in Maryland] and [a Football Championship Subdivision] program [in Morgan State]. I just think it’s great exposure for our university and campus to show the things that we’re doing here on campus. I think it will help with recruiting and networking. So I think it’s a win for both universities.”

The idea is the brainchild of Locksley, who recalled his time as an offensive coordinator at Illinois from 2005 to 2008 when then-coach Ron Zook organized a practice in Chicago. He was also the offensive coordinator with the Terps from 2012 to 2015 when then-coach Randy Edsall took the team to Dunbar and Middletown high schools in 2013 and North Point in Waldorf in 2014.

But Saturday will mark the first time Locksley has partnered Maryland with another college program.

Locksley said during his time at Florida (2003-04), Illinois and New Mexico (2009-11), he saw fans, players and coaches in those states get behind their respective flagship universities. He said he wants to do the same with Baltimore.

“I wanted to make sure that we took the Maryland brand to them,” he said. “There seems to be this disconnect as if we’re a D.C. school. But we’re Maryland. We’re the University of Maryland, the flagship of the state. As I’ve always said, it’s our job as the flagship university for our system to make sure that we’re spreading our brand throughout the state so that it’s not just a D.C. thing because it’s not. We’re Maryland.”

Locksley said he inquired about the availability of the practice field at Under Armour’s headquarters in Baltimore, but the field is under construction. Remembering that Morgan State is an Under Armour-sponsored school as Maryland is, Locksley contacted Wilson to see if he would be willing to host the Terps.

The pair have known each other for more than 20 years when Wilson was the special teams coordinator and running backs coach at Bowie State and Locksley was the recruiting coordinator and running backs coach at Maryland.

Both coaches are members of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, and Wilson is a member of the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches launched by Locksley in 2020. Also, Locksley successfully recruited Wilson’s cousin, cornerback and safety Dennard Wilson, to the Terps.

The personal connection probably helped, but Wilson said he welcomed Locksley’s call about Saturday’s practice.

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“It was a great idea, something that’s outside of the box to give an opportunity for folks in the community that may not have the opportunity to go down to College Park to see them practice and see two different college programs,” Damon Wilson said. “It also lets students in the area know that they have two options to go to college and play college football, and we want to show you two of the programs in one spot.”

For now, Saturday’s practice is a one-time event although both coaches said they are open to scheduling more spring practices in conjunction in the future. And both said they have granted their players a little leeway to watch each teams’ practices before the Terps have to concentrate on their session in the afternoon and the Bears have to prepare for a workout Sunday.

Wilson said he is anticipating “a few thousand” people in attendance as long as the weather holds up. Both coaches said they hope fans will enjoy what they see on Saturday.

“It’s an opportunity to see two college programs that are located in the state of Maryland and for them to root for and cheer for,” Wilson said. “We’re not going against one another. However, we represent the state, and we represent the city of Baltimore when we travel. So it’s just a great opportunity for them to see us up close and personal.”

Added Locksley: “Football in this state is in good hands. Whether it’s at Morgan at the FCS level or us as the flagship university for this state, we’re making strides as programs. I know what Damon has done at Morgan and what we’ve accomplished in our short time here at Maryland. We’re still not done, but I think we’re both off to a good start, and I hope that the people in this state get behind these programs.”