Ron Zook will be back on the sidelines in 2021, earning his first coordinator role in college football since 2011.
According to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Maryland reached a deal with the former Illinois head coach to become the program’s special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach. The 66-year-old served the last two years in College Park as a senior analyst for the Terrapins.
The ties between Zook and Maryland head coach Mike Locksley run deep. The two worked together in 2007 when Illinois made a run to the Rose Bowl, but their roles were reversed. Locksley worked underneath Zook as his offensive coordinator for the Fighting Illini for three years from 2006-08. He eventually left to take on the head coaching gig at New Mexico.
The two will get a chance to fully re-unite on the sidelines in 2021 as Maryland hopes to turn things around in Locksley’s third year at the helm.
Ron Zook is back in the B1G! #Maryland makes it official and hires Zook, the former Illinois coach, as special teams coordinator/outside linebackers coach. Terps coach Mike Locksley served as Zook’s offensive coordinator when Illinois went to the Rose Bowl in 2007.
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) February 16, 2021
In Zook, the Terrapins will get an assistant with vast experience at both the college and professional level. He began his career on the sidelines over 40 years ago in 1978 as the defensive backs coach at Murray State.
From there, Zook went on to spend time with various Division I programs. In 1996, he opted for the NFL, taking on the special teams coordinator role with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Zook served as the defensive backs coach for the Kansas City Chiefs and later earned the defensive coordinator job with the New Orleans Saints in 2000.
He went back to the college game in 2002, accepting the head coaching gig at Florida. He went 23-14 in three years with the Gators, but left prior to 2004 Peach Bowl to take over at Illinois. Zook coached the Fighting Illini for seven seasons, including their miraculous run to the Rose Bowl in 2007.
Zook will finish his complete comeback to the Big Ten by accepting the new job with Maryland. Alongside his old friend Mike Locksley, the 66-year-old old will try to help lead the Terrapins to their first winning record since 2014.
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