Big Ten

Big Ten preview: Will Likely looks to impact all phases of game for Terps

Big Ten preview: Will Likely looks to impact all phases of game for Terps

Is there anything Will Likely can’t do?

Well, we’re going to find out.

Likely is Maryland’s star defensive back/return man, and this season he’ll probably get a good deal of run on the offensive side of the ball, too.

It makes sense for a guy with his amount of talent. Last season, Likely made Week 1 headlines when he broke a decades-old Big Ten record with a whopping 233 punt-return yards. All in all, he finished his junior season as an All-Big Ten First Team selection with 408 punt-return yards (with two touchdowns), 789 kick-return yards (with one touchdown), 11 carries for 93 rushing yards and five catches for 17 receiving yards.

Expect those offensive numbers — or at the very least those offensive opportunities — to get much bigger this season. New Maryland head coach DJ Durkin, who as Michigan’s defensive coordinator last season had to figure out a way to stop Likely, has big plans for the senior.

“Will is a dynamic talent and dynamic player. He can do so many different things. I think his play probably speaks for itself,” Durkin said during Big Ten Media Days. “That's only scratching the surface of Will, the type of person he is. Will and I have gotten to know each other well over the past several months. He's one of the first guys I talked to when I got the job. And to visit with him — he had a big decision on his plate whether to stay or move on, and obviously we feel he made the right decision. We're proud of him for that.

“I think Will will be a guy that has involvement in all three phases of our game, for sure. How much and to what (extent), those are all decisions we'll make as we work through camp here and decide what's best for our team and what he can handle. But he's a dynamic guy. I know from coaching the other sideline against Will, one of my biggest concerns or worries was when he had the ball in his hands. So we definitely want to take advantage of that and use him to the best of our team's ability as much as we can.”

Coming off his second straight All-Big Ten First Team last season, Likely likely (pardon the pun) could have cashed in as a professional had be opted to head to the NFL Draft. But he decided to stay at Maryland, as Durkin mentioned, and his goal is to get himself — and the Terps — even better.

“Mostly just getting better overall, whether it’s DB stuff, offensive stuff and return stuff. Just try to be the complete package the I know I could be,” Likely said. “Just try to keep improving and get others better around me. That’s my main focus, that’s what it’s really about, getting other people around me to be on the same expectation or the same level.”

Getting Likely involved in a passing game that could use some assistance would certainly be a big boost. The Terps’ biggest problems in that area stem from quarterbacks throwing more interceptions than any other team in college football last season, but adding a weapon such as Likely can only help a passing offense that ranked second to last in the Big Ten.

And he’s already getting started:

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.

Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football. 

"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.

"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.

"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline." 

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."

"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.

"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."

Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

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Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.

Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.

Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.

The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.