Likens, a Mississippi native, played college football for Mississippi State. One of his first coaching jobs was at the University of North Alabama. After spending several years coaching in the northeast part of the country, Likens talked about returning to the South. "It's a different culture," explained the Brookhaven, MS native. "In the Northeast, there are so many things to do. It's more of a basketball and baseball area. The South is football crazy. Everyone follows recruiting here. I don't think I was ever asked a recruiting question when I was up there. Here, it's every day. People are just more interested in football and I love that."
Likens will get to see more of the South at Louisiana Tech. His recruiting territory basically includes everything between Ruston, LA and Jackson, MS, up to Little Rock, and back over to Northern Mississippi. "That includes the Monroe area," added Coach Likens, "which is a fertile recruiting area. I love the coaches over there."
Camps are a big recruiting tool for every college team. Any chance to get high school players on your campus is a positive thing. The recent ‘Jam at the Joe' with ten area high school teams playing in Joe Aillet stadium was no different. "It's invaluable," agreed Likens. "They get a chance to play on our field and see what it would be like."
"Coach Dykes' personality is very open," Likens went on to explain. "He's easy to get to know and very approachable. I think the high school coaches really like that. The last camp we had, we expected maybe fifty to eighty kids and we had close to three hundred."
With the new offense promising to give a lot of opportunities to wide receivers, Likens had a chance to see a lot of potential pass catchers this summer. This season, he has more than enough to work with. "We're going to play eight guys in a ball game," he said. "We're going to put four guys out there, roll them in and out, and keep them fresh. It's a great opportunity if you're a wide receiver."
Coach Likens talked about some of the new faces in his group. "Carey Fortson was a signee this year and he's going to play," he said. "We don't have any expectations of red-shirting him right now. He's going to be a really good player. He's got some great raw talent. Andrew Guillot, who has been a walk on, has moved right up the depth chart. He's been tremendous. He's running second team right now, but he moved back and forth with Ahmad Paige for the starting position in camp at Z-receiver. We're excited about him. We think he has a bright future."
"We're all young," Coach Likens added about his group. "Phillip Livas is our only guy that has played in a college football game. Jaccari Jackson has been doing really well. Ahmad Paige is another one. Inside, we have Eric Harper and David Gru, who is another walk-on that has done really well. Harper will do some things that tight ends do, but the thing about him is he is actually fast enough to run downfield routes and be a slot receiver. Thalib Ikharo, who has done a great job, is a transfer from California. Richie Casey and Lyle Fitte are two more. They're all going to play."
D.J. St. Julien and a newly re-instated Tim Molton bring even more firepower to the offense. Lyle Fitte said fans can expect great things. "Explosiveness," Fitte began. "We're going to be explosive. We're going to line up fast. We're going to score a lot of points and we're not setting any bars. The sky is the limit."
The sky is the limit for the new coaching staff, the team, the offense, and the wide receivers in particular. Rob Likens brings a lot of energy and experience to Louisiana Tech. He is a great addition to the university.