Posted: 6:20 pm Friday, December 21st, 2012
By Jeff Greer
Standing on the sidelines before the 2010 state championship game, Glades Central assistant coach Sam King followed then-sophomore Will Likely with his eyes.
“That boy is going to be big time,” said King, his familiar grin accentuated by his salt-and-pepper facial hair. “Big. Time.”
Two years later, Likely finally hit the big time, verbally committing on Friday to accept a college football scholarship at University of Maryland. He will arrive on Maryland’s campus Jan. 20 and enroll early.
The talented senior, ranked fourth on the PBGametime.com Big Board, chose the Terrapins over Wake Forest, LSU and FSU. The Terps came on strong after Likely’s early November visit to their campus but still weren’t his first choice immediately thereafter, making the commitment a surprise to many outside his closest circle. Maryland’s hat didn’t even arrive in time to be displayed on the table next to hats from Miami, FSU, LSU and Wake Forest at Likely’s announcement ceremony.
“(Maryland’s) program stands out,” Likely said. “They were down a few years but you can see the building they’re going through, and that’s the impact of them going to the Big Ten. That’s awesome, and I’m ready to get started.”
Likely (5-foot-7, 175 pounds) wore numerous hats for Glades Central over a four-year varsity career. His primary position, cornerback, is where he’ll play at the next level. He also returned kicks and punts, which he’ll do at Maryland, and lined up at running back, receiver and even quarterback on offense.
He ran for 769 yards and seven touchdowns this fall as Central’s lead ball carrier, though he also caught 32 passes for 429 yards. Last season, after which Likely won the Lou Groza High School Player of the Year award and was named the Palm Beach Post Defensive Player of the Year, he tallied 1,900 total yards, 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 13 games. He played in two state championship games in his high school career.
But no moment will secure Likely’s status in Belle Glade more than his eye-catching plays in Glades Central’s nationally televised win over Dwyer to start the 2011 season. Twice Likely beat his defender down the right sideline, drifted into the air and snagged rainbow passes — one set up a touchdown, the other scored one. Those two catches, paired with his game-opening kickoff return for a touchdown, were ESPN SportsCenter‘s top plays of the week.
As of right now, it appears Likely will be the only Glades Central senior to play Division I football, at least at the FBS level, but his playing days at Central were spent alongside some of the biggest names in recent memory. Kelvin Benjamin, a redshirt freshman receiver at FSU, was Likely’s teammate for two seasons. Western Michigan’s breakout freshman receiver Jaime Wilson was Likely’s partner-in-crime for three seasons.
For a while folks around Glades Central thought Likely would join former teammate Dominique Gibson and several other players from the Glades at Wake Forest, but Maryland’s late push sealed the deal.
“When I got back (from the visit) it still wasn’t at the top,” Likely said. “I still had LSU and FSU on my mind, but I thought about it and prayed about it a lot.
He added, with a laugh, “And my little brother told me to go to Maryland, so I followed him.”