COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- There was a time not long ago when Maryland slot Will Ulmer was possibly known more for his orange or gold hair, a wrist watch that looked like it could command small drones, and, overall, his penchant for “bling,” all in a kinda fun-loving way.
Now the Terps redshirt freshman converted receiver is all business/no flash.
Ulmer, the former four-star and Under Armour All American quarterback-athlete-turned-receiver last year out of St. John’s (Washington, D.C.), is one of the more intriguing story-lines of spring camp this month, making the full transition to receiver and beginning to display his scintillating set of athletic skills.
Ulmer, who last fall arrived at his first Terps camp as a quarterback but within weeks was moved to slot, is playing the “Z” position now and starting to thrive.
One of the best all-around athletes on the team, Ulmer realized the position was his best to utilize his athletic gifts and make-you-miss ability. Head coach Randy Edsall said this week that Ulmer brings athletic ability/shiftiness to the Terps’ receivers’ corps that none other possess.
Interviewed this week, a bigger, thicker (and normal-haired) Ulmer broke it all down as he looks ahead to a promising fall as, at least for now, he’s a starter in spring camp and getting a ton of reps. He’s checking in at 6-foot-1, 198 pounds, up from 182 pounds last fall. Ulmer can play both the wide-out and slot positions in the Terps offense depending on the formations.
“It was the best decision for me going forward and my future,” Ulmer said of the move. “Just taking advantage of the opportunity.”
Ulmer said he actually wanted to make the move even before the coaches approached him last August.
“I just thought it was better for me because I can do more things at wide receiver and I’m limited at quarterback in college because it’s more about….the NFL, they are looking for more prototypical quarterbacks, quarterbacks who can throw a lot. So I think it was the best decision,” Ulmer said.
Ulmer said he didn’t know all the plays last fall, while at first he was running the zone read offense on scout team so did not have a ton of time to learn receiver.
“So last year was just a whole learning process, and I took advantage of Stef [Stefon Diggs] and Deon [Long] and seeing what they were doing and just following them,” Ulmer said.
Ulmer said concentration and focus, “when you get tired,” have been some keys, while receivers coach Keenan McCardell has been stressing “perfection in routes, and just perfecting your craft, really.”
Ulmer’s speed, explosiveness and shiftiness jump out, especially after-the-catch, while he has to keep improving his hands as he’s had some drops so far. But he and quarterback Shane Cockerille have had many big hookups in camp so far, be it deep shots downfield when Ulmer has run past his man, or underneath balls that Ulmer has made defenders whiff and gained a bunch of yards after the catch.
“That’s really just concentration, and I am getting better each and every day,” Ulmer said of his catching ability. “Looking the ball in before I start running, as sometimes I try to take off running right away. After the catch I just want to score.”
Ulmer likes the typical receivers out there, starting with Diggs, Odell Beckham, and DeSean Jackson, as far as watching their games for pointers, etc. Like some of them, after the catch is when Ulmer shines the most, with his electric ability and quick feet. The hands are the next major step, but beyond that he, Juwann Winfree, Levern Jacobs and Marcus Leak have been the biggest playmakers so far this spring.
Said Terps rising senior corner Sean Davis, who has seen Ulmer both as a safety and now as a corner:
“He’s definitely one of the fastest receivers we have,” Davis said. “He’s learning how to become sharp with his routes. Right now I think he is just working on that technique, breaking down better route running, But he’s a young, good athlete, and I can definitely see he has put a lot of work in this off-season getting his hands better, learning the playbook, things like that.”
Will Ulmer Starting to Shine
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