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Maryland's Will Likely breaks 76-year-old Big Ten record


Maryland's Will Likely breaks 76-year-old Big Ten record

COLLEGE PARK -- In the moment, Will Likely wasn’t aware exactly how many yards he had racked up on special teams Saturday against Richmond.

It turns out, his 233 punt return yards set a new Big Ten record, eclipsing the mark set by Iowa’s Nile Kinnick in 1939.

“1930?” Likely asked, in disbelief that he could be hearing that correctly when told of the record by a reporter postgame. He was given the more precise date -- 1939.

“That’s a long time. It’s a blessing, man, just be able to do that, to be able to break somebody’s record who did it that long [ago] and it hasn’t been broken? That’s a blessing.”

Richmond kept punting it to him and he kept returning it. And when Richmond tried to punt it away from him, he kept going and getting it and returning it again.

On his last return of the day, he dipped and dodged 67 yards with very little gas left in the tank, diving from just outside the goal line to reach across and score a touchdown.


“Give Will credit. He was going to track them down,” head coach Randy Edsall said. “He’s a ball hawk and he loves getting that ball in his hands.”

It’s rare that a program is able to send a starting-caliber returner to the NFL and have one come in the next season and be as good or better than the one who has left.

Stefon Diggs, who shared duties with Likely last season, has been tremendous for the Minnesota Vikings as a punt returner in the preseason.

Likely steps in full-time and in one game tallied more punt return yards (233) than he did all of last season (225). The single-game total of 233 places him 12th on Maryland's single-season list.

“I don’t know if there’s enough superlatives to use in regards to Will Likely,” Edsall said. “He’s a joy to be around. He’s a joy to coach.”

As electric as Likely’s punt returns are to watch for entertainment value alone, they’re also crucially important to what Maryland wants to do offensively this season.

Quarterback Perry Hills will continue to settle into the starting role and if he can set up in an opponent’s territory on a regular basis thanks to Likely, that makes his job much easier.

One more note on the player whose record Likely broke on Saturday? Kinnick went on to win the Heisman Trophy during that 1939 season.

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NBA Draft 2018: Maryland basketball's Justin Jackson drafted by Nuggets, traded to Magic

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NBA Draft 2018: Maryland basketball's Justin Jackson drafted by Nuggets, traded to Magic

Maryland basketball had two players drafted in one night for the second time in three years Thursday night when the Denver Nuggets picked Justin Jackson with the No. 43 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Jackson was subsequently traded to the Orlando Magic as part of a deal that brought the No. 41 overall pick, Kentucky's Jarred Vanderbilt, to Denver.

After his freshman season, in which he averaged 10.5 points and six rebounds a game while shooting 43.8 percent from beyond the arc, Jackson declared for the draft without an agent, but elected to return to Maryland for his sophomore season. But he'd play just 11 games before being shutdown for the year with a torn labrum. His draft stock was hurt, but obviously not totally erased.

He had surgery in January and ended up being the first Terp to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft back in March. Though Jackson's recovery kept him out of the NBA Combine, teams were still intrigued by what they'd seen from him in the past to be willing to take a flyer.

A 6-foot-7 forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Jackson has the skill to play anywhere between the two or the four in the NBA, and the length to guard all kinds of players.

With Kevin Huerter headed to the last-place Atlanta Hawks, Maryland basketball's two draftees are slated to join last season's two worst teams in the Eastern Conference.

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NBA Draft 2018: Atlanta Hawks draft Maryland basketball's Kevin Huerter with the No. 19 overall pick

NBA Draft 2018: Atlanta Hawks draft Maryland basketball's Kevin Huerter with the No. 19 overall pick

Maryland basketball's Kevin Huerter was drafted No. 19 overall Thursday night by the Atlanta Hawks.

He's the Terps' highest draft pick since the Phoenix Suns drafted Alex Len fifth overall in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Huerter played two seasons with Maryland, averaging 12 points, five rebounds and three assists as a Terp. He's best known for his knockdown shooting ability, as he knocked down 46.6 percent of his shots from the field, including 39.4 percent of his three-point shots. During his sophomore season, he was better than 50 percent from the field and better than 40 percent from deep.

Back in April, when Huerter first declared for the 2018 NBA Draft without an agent, it was widely assumed he was just testing the waters to get feedback from NBA scouts and would return to school for his junior season. But an outstanding performance at the NBA Combine saw his hardly existent draft stock skyrocket. Almost overnight, Huerter's name was popping up in the first round of mock drafts, and now what seemed like a no-brainer decision to return to school wasn't so clear.

On May 30, he announced that he would leave his name in the 2018 NBA Draft and hire an agent. He recently had surgery on a torn ligament in his hand, but is expected to miss only two months and make a full recovery by the time the 2018 NBA season starts.

With the Atlanta Hawks, Huerter should pick up right where he left off shooting in college, but can also provide high basketball IQ and sneaky athleticism. He and Trae Young join Dennis Schröder and Kent Bazemore who finished last in the Eastern Conference last season.