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:
Will Likely getting in a few reps with WR's. He hinted at this at media days. Dangerous weapon pic.twitter.com/AHXyhUPZzp— Dave Revsine (@BTNDaveRevsine) August 11, 2016