There will come a time, Coach Randy Edsall said, when the Maryland football team no longer staffs four recruiters in Florida, when the Terrapins turn their undivided attention to more Big Ten-friendly territory, eschewing the south in favor of the Midwest.
Edsall’s class of 2013, after all, will be Maryland’s last to play in the ACC, so recruiting Florida becomes less of a priority after this period concludes. But perhaps getting a player such as Will Likely was a last-gasp gift for these Terps.
Likely, a dynamic defensive back and returner from Glades Central High School, committed to Maryland at a Friday ceremony in his high school. He sat behind a table on a stage, behind hats with the logos of nearby powerhouses. LSU. Florida State. Miami. For his ultimate decision, however, Likely reached below the table and held up a Terps pennant. His Maryland hat, Likely said, didn’t arrive in time.
And so the four-star recruit and 21st-ranked cornerback, according to ESPN.com, emulated another famous Florida-related decision and announced, “I’ll be taking my talents to the University of Maryland.”
“It was a nice visit. Actually to be honest, fun fact, when I got back it wasn’t at the top,” Likely told reporters from ESPN 760. “I had to think it over. Still LSU, Florida State going on in my mind. I thought about it, prayed about it, my little brother told me to go to Maryland. I’m following his word.”
Nearby, Glades Central Athletic Director Kenneth McDonald smiled. McDonald had coached Likely in Little League and youth league football when he was 10 years old, and fondly recalls Likely’s dedication and studious approach to sports. During one particular game, McDonald remembers, Likely’s team kept getting stuffed after running a play to a particular side. So Likely approached McDonald on the sideline and offered a suggestion. “Run it to the other side,” Likely said. “We can get ‘em.”
Of course, they did.
“It’s a blessing,” McDonald said.
Likely figures to bolster Maryland’s young secondary, which unlike the rest of the defense returns the bulk of its playmakers but at times struggled this season. Jeremiah Johnson and Dexter McDougle return on the outside, while safeties Matt Robinson, Sean Davis and Anthony Nixon all saw substantial playing time this season. Only Eric Franklin graduates.
Likely rushed for 769 yards and seven touchdowns and had 31 receptions for 427 yards this past season for Glades Central, which has consistently churned out top NFL talent like former Pro Bowl running back Fred Taylor and Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes. Likely also possesses the athleticism to contribute on special teams, helping spell Stefon Diggs in the return game.
He told reporters that he will enroll this January, leaving Florida on Jan. 20 to participate in Maryland’s spring practices. His recruitment was handled primarily by special teams coordinator Andre Powell and defensive coordinator Brian Stewart.
(Videos courtesy of ESPN760)