COLLEGE PARK, MD -- How quiet was Terps senior linebacker L.A. Goree as a child?
So quiet his father threw him into youth football to get him more demonstrative, more out-going, meet some people.
Well, the results have been mixed thus far, as Goree is still among the quietest of Terps, though his game speaks loudly enough on the field.
Goree, one of what Maryland head coach Randy Edsall calls his "silent but deadly' linebacker group, returns as Maryland's third-leading tackler of a year ago, when he collected 76 tackles while starting nine games. He led the team in tackles with 10 stops against FIU, while he led the team with nine stops, as well as a forced fumble and a tackle for loss, in the big win over West Virginia at M&T Bank Stadium. Then, against ACC rival Virginia, Goree broke out with a 16-tackle effort to be named ACC Linebacker of the Week.
But in some ways he barely registers a blip, Edsall said this week at camp.
"L.A., it's interesting. We were in a coaches meeting and we're talking and I said I see him out here doing his job but he's kinda going unnoticed a little bit," Edsall said. "But again, he's got that mentality I'm going out there, I'm going to do my job and do it to the best of my ability and lead by example, and that's what he's really doing."
Goree takes it all in stride, admitting he's the quietest among Terps 'backers, which is a very quiet group to begin with. He says senior Cole Farrand is the chattiest, which isn't saying much as he can be a man of few words as well, as well as he's the unit's prankster.
"We're all quiet," Goree said on Aug. 12. "We all got that 'silent but deadly' mentality about it. As linebackers, we don't got to talk much, the actions really talk. So we don't talk much, we just make plays when its time to make plays."
Goree, who has gained 10 pounds since last season and says his stamina has never been so good, said of both Farrand and outside terror Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil: "Don't let them fool you, they have jokes around the locker room and talk a lot, too."
The Terps starting foursome is a stout group, with Goree and Farrand inside, and Cudjoe-Virgil and Matt Robinson outside, all seniors and very veteran. They are tremendous against the run and getting downhill, and still improving against the pass.
"I think we're definitely still improving. I don't want to ever sit up here and say we're a finished product," Goree said. "We can always get better. Just small things like our fit, make sure we come off the edge and tight the way we're supposed to be."
Goree stepped out of character a bit this week when Edsall allowed the players to have rap music and the like at workouts in Byrd Stadium.
"I don't know if you follow MarylandPride on Instagram, but they got a video of me dancing to the music on the first day. Everyone's excited to have the music playing," Goree said of his spontaneous outburst this week.
Other than that, it's mostly fitting and filling for the inside 'backers like Goree. He said he took his conditioning and stamina to another level this summer. He shot up from 235 to 245 pounds this offseason.
"And 'nose over toes.' Coach [Keith] Dudzinski and Coach [Brian] Stewart tell me to keep my nose over toes when you make your tackle. And I have been using it out here and I have been so much more powerful when I have been making tackles," Goree said.
Goree said the post-grad year at Fork Union Military Academy worked wonders for him, maturing him as a student and person. He has shot up to a power clean of 358 pounds, and said he has never been so physical. He was only 205 pounds when he first arrived at College Park, and initially Ralph Friedgen's staff wanted to move him to safety.
"Toughest semester of my life, but I needed it. If was a blessing in disguise because I wasn't as good a student as I could have been. In high school I didn't have really good grades, but I came to Maryland and first semester I had a 3.0 [GPA]. So I attribute that to Fork Union. And I got my degree now and I am in grad school studying."
Goree said among the youngsters, linebackers Yannick Ngakoue and Jermaine Carter have jumped out to him, while of the true freshmen Jesse Aniebonam he said: "I like how long he is. He's fast, and physically he's all there. And [Mike] Gillespie [a walk-on from Loyola] is surprising me. He caught my eye a lot, he is faster than I thought he would be."
Off the field and on, Goree admits he is the quietest of the Terps' linebackers. He said that's fine with him as long as he is getting the work done on the field. None of them make much noise, deferring to others to lead by words while they prefer action. It's a tight-knit group, and one causing some major disruption in camp, led by Cudjoe-Virgil on the outside, despite coming off a torn pectoral muscle injury a year ago.
"Even Coach Edsall said I just go about my business, and I will take that. I have always been the quietest ever since I can remember. My father said he put me in football because I was too quiet and he wanted me to have some friends," Goree laughed.
He spent all summer on campus, even gave up the beach, "and I had a girlfriend. That's all you need."
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