Today we profile perhaps the biggest name newcomer on defense.
Will Likely, Freshman, Cornerback, #4
High School Stats: 769 rushing yards, 429 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns
Recruiting Ratings: Four stars by ESPN and Rivals, three stars by 247 and Scout
High School: Glades Central
Hometown: Belle Glade, Fl. (aka Muck City)
High School Highlights
How'd He Get to College Park?
Maryland hasn't recruited Florida too much of late compared to when they were in the state all the time under Don Brown, but they hit a home run with Likely. A star recruit who tore up 5A competition in the most talent-rich state in the country, Likely missed out on a few elite offers due to his height, which opened a door for Maryland. The Terps pursued him hard and ended up in his final three, despite their on-field struggles. And when he announced at his school, he held a Maryland pennant to announce his choice - the hat hadn't arrived in time, he said.
It was a late commitment, but it kick-started the Terps' strong finish to the cycle, adding Taivon Jacobs and Yannick Ngakoue down the back stretch as well. Likely had the potential to be a five-star talent with a few more inches of height, but Maryland won't mind; a taller Likely probably would've ended up elsewhere, and he's a fantastic prospect as it is, winning Gatorade Player of the Year (as a junior) and being named Florida Class 5A All-State First Team (as a senior). After wrapping up his high school career, he graduated early and enrolled early in College Park to get a head start in spring practice, which will bolster his bid for early playing time.
Being named Gatorade Florida PoY as a junior. They don't just hand out those things like Gatorade, after all.
Likely makes an impact returning punts and starts out as a nickel or dime back, playing well and working his way up to push Dexter McDougle and Jeremiah Johnson by the end of the year
No freshman has a better chance at making a significant instant impact than Likely, not even the even-more-highly-regarded Yannick Ngakoue. (Excluding, of course, the JuCo transfers.) Likely is not only an immensely talented player who has faced top-notch competition his entire life, he's also going to have an entire spring practice getting used to the college game and Maryland's system - and he comes in at a position of need to boot. Dex and Johnson are sure-fire Week One starters, but Isaac Goins' nickel job isn't safe, and beyond that there's a whole lot of inexperience. Likely will almost assuredly burn his redshirt this year and see time as a cornerback, not to mention the possibility he'll get a chance to return punts (which, honestly, Stefon Diggs should not be doing).
Should he do well, I wouldn't be shocked to see him push either McDougle or Johnson's starting spot by the end of the year. That's obviously very bullish on Likely and very bearish on both Dex and JJ, but the point is that it's not an inconceivability - Likely is that instinctually, mechanically good, and Maryland's defense still needs impact players. Which isn't to say he won't have issues, especially physically; Florida's loaded, but the ACC is a big step up in terms of the bodies he'll be going up against. A 5-7 guy might be able to get away with some stuff against a 5-10 slow guy that he can't pull against a 6-1 burner, and that will be an adjustment. It might even prove too much for Likely, and he could end up seeing only situational snaps behind Isaac Goins. But if there's any single freshman to know for next year, this is the one.
Our next player, the first result when googling his first name, led his high school team to their first playoff appearance since 2006 during his senior year.
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