Locksley to join Zook at Illinois

Florida brings in a strength and conditioning coach from Notre Dame.

Shown is the stadium on the day of Zook's first game as a Gator coach. His debut at Illinois will be beside his old offensive coordinator, Locksley.

Sun file photo
Published: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 at 12:44 a.m.

He spent plenty of hours talking with mentors, coaches and others, but in the end Mike Locksley decided it was time.

The Florida running backs coach and recruiting coordinator late Tuesday night officially accepted the job as Illinois' new offensive coordinator. The job opened up when Larry Fedora decided to leave Ron Zook's fledgling staff for the same job at Oklahoma State.

"I wish that hadn't happened because I would have liked another year," Locksley said. "But it did and it's an opportunity I can't pass up."

Locksley said earlier in the evening he thought he would take the job, but wanted to sit down one more time with Florida coach Urban Meyer. Meyer returned to town from the American Football Coaches Association convention in Louisville, Ky., late Tuesday night and the two met at the UF football offices.

Locksley, who was part of Zook's staff the last two seasons at Florida, was offered the position at Illinois by Zook on Saturday.

He flew to Champaign, Ill., on Sunday night, spent the morning

looking at the facilities and traveled by car with Zook to the AFCA convention Monday afternoon.

Locksley met with Meyer on Monday night in Louisville before flying back to Gainesville on Tuesday afternoon.

"I had a good visit (at Illinois)," Locksley said. "It's going to take some work up there. It's going to take some time to get it going. But the athletic director seemed like he understood that."

Locksley turned down an earlier offer from Zook to join the Illinois staff as a running game coordinator and also turned down job offers from Oklahoma State and South Carolina.

While it appears likely Meyer will have to go find an assistant coach to fill out his staff, he has hired a replacement for director of strength and conditioning Rob Glass.

The Sun has learned Mickey Marotti, who had been in the same position at Notre Dame since 1998, has agreed to join the Florida staff. He will replace Glass, who was hired at Oklahoma State last week.

Marotti was at the University of Cincinnati for eight years as strength and conditioning director before moving to Notre Dame in February of 1998. Meyer, then an assistant with the Irish, was part of the search committee that settled on Marotti.

Marotti has two master's degrees and in 2003 became one of only 36 people in the world to earn a Master Strength and Conditioning Coach certificate.

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