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Alabama wide receivers say position coach Mike Locksley is ‘more relatable’

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State’s offensive coordinator Billy Napier did a fine job coaching wide receivers at the University of Alabama, but the promotion of Michael Locksley to co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach has this year’s group of perimeter targets excited for the upcoming season.

He was one of the leaders during the Crimson Tide’s fourth quarter program in the offseason, spending time with both quarterbacks and receivers. Locksley talked to players on the importance of being competitive, finishing with an edge and playing to a standard, while pushing each receiver in drills to create separation from defensive backs and work to get open.

His leadership, tough love and attention to details won the team over in spring practice, as three guys – Calvin Ridley, Robert Foster and Jerry Jeudy – recorded at least 100 yards on A-Day. As good as Napier was, sources have confirmed with yours truly on how this bunch of wide outs connect with Locksley on and off the field.

“With him having a background of playing in the secondary, the receivers feel like they can relate more to him,” sources said on Locksley. “He knows certain tricks to the game and is teaching this group on how to get open to create separation upon the snap of the football.”

The first four years of Locksley’s 24-year coaching tenure started on defense at Towson State, Naval Prep and Pacific University (California). After playing defensive back at Townson State from 1988-91, he coached the secondary and special teams for the program in 1992. Locksley would then serve as defensive coordinator, defensive backs coach and defensive line coach at Naval Prep from 1993-94, and next a stint at Pacific as an outside linebackers coach in 1995.

A switched to offense awaited Locksley at Army in 1996, and for the next 20 years, he mentored wide receivers, running backs, tight ends and quarterbacks. The Washington, D.C., native coached at Maryland, Florida, Illinois and New Mexico, before arriving at Alabama as an offensive analyst in 2016. He was promoted to on-field assistant shortly after Lane Kiffin accepted a head coach job at Florida Atlantic and Steve Sarkisian was hired at offensive coordinator. Throughout spring ball, he appeared to be very active with the receivers.

“Locksley sugarcoats nothing,” sources said.

“He tells it like it is and the players have responded well. He keeps things in a professional manner and has a good mind for offense. With Daboll doing a lot in the NFL, Locksley’s knowledge of the college game is going to come in handy in terms of helping him adjust.”

Stephen M. Smith is a managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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