Posted: 8:27 pm Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

How Maryland coach Randy Edsall only barely escaped Pahokee 

By Jeff Greer

Maryland head coach Randy Edsall traveled to the Glades in December to chat with current Maryland cornerback and Glades Central alum Will Likely.

Edsall and his assistant got lost along the way. He survived to tell about it, though only by a hair.

Edsall told his harrowing story at his signing-day press conference — a wrong turn, a staredown, a wild chase — all because he and an assistant coach wanted to meet with Likely, the only prized Class of 2013 recruit in the Glades this year.

Here’s what Edsall told the reporters today, via the Washington Post:

“The one thing is, if you’ve ever read the story about down there in the Muck, about how they used to chase rabbits, the first question I asked Will, I said, ‘When you chased the rabbits, did you catch them?’ He said, ‘Yeah,’ so I offered him a scholarship. If he didn’t catch the rabbits, I wasn’t going to offer him.

I’m very, very fortunate to be sitting here after going down and recruiting Will. We go down to West Palm Beach, and I’m with Coach Stewart and we’re going to drive out to Belle Glade to see Will that night. Brian punches in the address to Will’s house. Believe me, I’ve been to Belle Glade many times and everything else. We’re driving. This is always one of the things. You go with the assistant coach, so you think they’ve been there. They’ve taken the drive around. They know exactly where they’re going.

All of a sudden, we’re driving and the GPS tells us to take a right here. I know that’s not right, because I’ve been down here. We’re driving up this road, and it’s leading us towards Pahokee. So we’re driving and I say to Brian: ‘I’m telling you now, I’ve been down here. Where we’re going isn’t where we want to be going. So we keep driving, he says, ‘The GPS says it’s right up here, a couple miles.’ I said: ‘Okay. I’m just telling you, this isn’t the right way.’

It’s all sugarcane fields. There’s no lights. It’s dark, 7 or 8 o’clock at night in December. So I said, ‘No, this isn’t right.’ There’s a railroad track there. All of a sudden, there’s this development. Probably 10 houses. You take a left, take a right, there’s a church, nice homes there. Go down, take another left there. He said, ‘It’s on this street.’

It’s so dark, you can’t even see the numbers on the houses. He’s going real, real slow. I said: ‘Brian, I’m telling you: This is not right.’ So he gets on the phone. True story. Will will let you know this later. Says, ‘Will, is this your address?’ Yes. That’s what he punched in. ‘Well we’re here, what’s your house?’ So we’re sitting there for five, seven minutes. Will says it’s not there. So we start to go.

We’re going to take a left. Here comes a pickup truck. They’re staring at us like, ‘What the heck are you guys doing in here?’ Then we got a car that comes up behind us. So now there’s a car coming behind us. I said, ‘Brian, I think we ought to get out of here.’ So we take a left and go.

Next thing you know, we’ve got both of them on our bumper in this little development. We get out on this highway. So Brian says, ‘Randy, hold on.’

We come flying out of this development. Take a right. The pickup truck tries to rear-end us. The other car tries to go outside us. He says, ‘Call 9-1-1.’ So I’m calling 9-1-1, I’m saying, ‘Hey, I’m the head coach at the University of Maryland. I know where we are, we’re getting chased. We didn’t do anything. We need a police officer to come out here.’

We drive for two and a half to three miles with people chasing us. Finally we get to the light. Brian outran them a bit. We get to the light, took a right and they stopped following us because we got out of things.

That’s the first time in 30 years I ever got chased out of a development and chased down the highway, going to recruit somebody. So we called Will, and his dad came out and met us. We were okay after that.

Something tells us the traumatic experience may be worth Likely’s signature.