DJ Durkin didn’t discover that Will Likely can play two ways. During a half-season stint as Maryland’s interim head coach last fall, Mike Locksley broke the emergency glass that had surrounded Likely and put him on offense. The upside was pretty obvious.
Likely was used in a hybrid role, sort of like an H-back. He was part-slot receiver, part-speed back. The running worked really well, with Likely carrying 11 times for 93 dizzying yards. The receiving wasn’t much. Likely was thrown at seven times and caught five, but just for 17 yards. But he can probably be useful there, too.
Remember, at the beginning of last season, this wasn’t a seriously entertained notion. Locksley, who was then Maryland’s offensive coordinator, explained why.
"There's no doubt about it. He jokes around a lot about it. ‘Put me in the slot, Coach, put me in the slot,'" Locksley said. "He's just so valuable to our team with the amount of reps that he plays on defense, and then special teams."
That’s all 100 percent rational.
Maryland uses Likely as an every-down cornerback and also relies on him to be an elite return man. At some point, you’re going to overload him, and Maryland’s always needed to remember that. He’s not Superman, at least not as far as any of us know.
Maryland’s new coach, clearly, is not that worried.
Durkin made it clear in the offseason that Likely would see time on offense this year. He’s now codified that with his first depth chart of the year, for Maryland’s opener against Howard. This depth chart is fun. I could go to a concert with it.
Let’s go through some things!
- Likely is your starting nickel back and a co-starter at slot receiver.
- Jake Funk is a backup running back and backup safety.
- Four-star receiver Tino Ellis is, dually, a backup cornerback.
Ellis seems happy about this, and why not?
Playing offense and defense even in college— Tino Ellis (@IamTinoEllis) August 29, 2016
Maryland’s athletic performance staff will have its hands full in monitoring what looks like at least two or three two-way players. That’s a lot for a Power 5 team, but if these kids can do it, they can do it. Either way, this is a fun experiment.
In other news
Here’s the weekly outlook on the football team. We’re thinking about giving this feature another name. It used to be the Byrd Feeder, but we’ve moved away from that as Maryland’s changed the name of its football season. It was the right move.
Maryland made the final 10 for elite point guard Trevon Duval.
Maryland’s conference schedule is out, completing the women’s basketball schedule for the season. The Terps’ double-dip opponents are Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota. Here’s full information.
Sasho Cirovski sees a top-line back end for Maryland soccer.
Big Ten defensive honors for Maryland volleyball’s Ashlyn McGregor.
Durkin’s season-opening press conference is set for this afternoon. We’ll have lots more from Maryland Stadium.