New Maryland head coach Mike Locksley has put together a solid group heading into his first season with the Terrapins, but one player believes things could have looked much different if he had been hired as the permanent head coach following 2015.

Former Clemson linebacker Shaq Smith is one of the players that Locksley has brought to Maryland, along with former Ohio State linebacker Keandre Jones. Both players are happy to be back home, but Smith discussed Friday how the duo almost attended Maryland with another high-profile player in 2016.

Locksley previously coached at Maryland from 2012-15 and was promoted to interim head coach following the firing of Randy Edsall. The team went 1-5 under Locksley, and Maryland decided to hire D.J. Durkin heading into 2016.

According to Josh Stirn with 247 Sports, Smith claimed that himself, Jones, and former Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins were looking at attending Maryland and playing together. However, Maryland’s decision to hire Durkin and Locksley’s subsequent departure to Alabama changed things:

“I still remember me and Dwayne [Haskins], KeAndre [Jones], all of the local guys, everybody was on board with staying home,”said Smith, a former standout at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore. “I think when coach Locks took the job at Alabama, that made the rest of the guys thinks about, well he’s going to one of the best programs, so I’m going to go to one of the best programs. And that’s what made everybody disperse.”

Asked if he believed he, Haskins and Jones would’ve came to Maryland if Locksley stayed, Smith said, “I could see that. I could see all of us staying at home. Who knows where Maryland would be right now [if that happened]?”

Unfortunately for Maryland fans, they will never get to know if there was a legitimate chance for Haskins to suit up with the Terrapins. On the other hand, at least Jones and Smith are with the team now and ready to contribute under Locksley.

Smith, the No. 3 ILB for the class of 2016, is eligible immediately after completing his degree at Clemson. Locksley also confirmed Friday that Jones has been cleared to compete this fall.

Fans will never know what may have been possible had Locksley been hired in the past. Fortunately, things are starting to look up for the Terrapins.

Sports Betting in Big Ten Country

Likely coming in the following months, Maryland sportsbooks are almost here. You heard it right. Maryland is joining many of the other Big Ten states with live and legal online sports betting.