Driving through the desolate sugar cane fields of Belle Glade, Fla., looking for the home of a recruit, was a frightening experience for Maryland head coach Randy Edsall and defensive coordinator Brian Stewart.
Several times on recruiting visits, Edsall had been to the area known for its poverty and abundance of football talent and sensed when Stewart – guided by his rent-a-car GPS – made a wrong turn.
“Where we’re going isn’t where we want to be going,” Edsall recalled saying.
They actually were in the neighborhood of prospect Will Likely and called him to confirm, but in driving slowly and trying to identify his address, Edsall and Stewart drew some unwanted attention, first a pickup truck, then a car.
“I said ‘Brian, I think we ought to get out of here,’” Edsall said. “We go down, take a left. Next thing we know, we got both of them on our bumper … We come flying out of this development, take a right. This pickup truck tries to rear-end us, the other one tries to go outside us.”
Edsall called 911, asking for police assistance. After driving a few miles Stewart shook free and eventually contact was made with Likely, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound, four-star recruit who was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Florida as a junior at South Glades High.
At Maryland, Likely will join four other players from South Florida — junior defensive end Will Bowers of West Palm Beach, sophomore defensive back Uudray Clark of Maimi, and offensive tackle Jake Wheeler and linebacker Clarence Murphy, both from Hollywood.
Likely was drawn to Maryland by the academics and the chance to play quickly. He enrolled a semester ahead and will practice with the team this spring. In addition to playing defensive back, Lively was a dangerous receiver and return man in high school.
“I look to bring that immediate impact,” Likely said of the chance to play as a freshman. “I always looked at it, anywhere I go, I’m confident I’m gonna compete and I’m gonna play.”