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Big-hitting L.A. Goree? He can do it for Terps
“Man, I want to change it but I don’t know how to change it,” he said laughing at Tuesday’s media luncheon. “I’m a big fan. I mean he’s a linebacker; respect that.”
But after receiving ACC Linebacker of the Week honors for his 16 tackles in Maryland’s 27-26 win against Virginia last Saturday, the junior from Bowie no longer needs to live up to Bobby Boucher’s fictional standard. He’s surpassing it.
“I think L.A. is having a really good year for us,” coach Randy Edsall said. “It’s great to see him get the recognition this week. … He’s a guy that really wants to do well, he’s not afraid of hard work, he’s physical.”
Goree’s physicality was on display against the Cavaliers. Of his career-high and season-high 16 tackles, the most for any Maryland player since Demetrius Hartsfield’s 18 in 2011, nine were solo tackles and one was for a loss of two yards.
“There’s definitely a rivalry [against Virginia],” Goree said. “I didn’t really know the rivalry going into the game, but while I was playing the game there was a lot of trash talk and punches, little extra side things. That just made me more hungry.”
While Goree said he was happy to receive ACC honors, he was not surprised. If he had his way, he would rather get an award for the way he practices, not just for one game.
“This might sound kind of corny, but my personal goal is just to practice as hard as I can,” he said, “because I know for a simple fact that if I practice with great intensity, everything will take care of itself. … Nothing more respected than a hard-working man, I feel like.”
Defensive lineman Zeke Riser backed that assertion.
“The L.A. that you saw on Saturday is the same L.A. I see every day at practice,” Riser said. “He’s one of our hardest-working practice guys, so whenever he has success like that I’m not surprised at all. He’s always the guy you can count on to practice hard and give everything he’s got.”
With injuries to key members of Maryland’s linebacker corps, including Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil, Goree knows he needs to step up both technically and as a leader to younger linebackers like Yannik Ngakoue who will likely fill in for Cudjoe-Virgil.
That’s not a problem for Goree, who has only gotten better with age. His freshman-year average of five tackles per game increased to 5.8 in 2012 and is up to 7.8 so far this season.
“Off the field I definitely think I’m very calm, very friendly, very laid back,” Goree said. “On the field, I can be tough, I can be a [jerk], I can be a trash-talker. I can be a lot of things.”
“He’s just like a smooth, cool guy,” Riser said. “He doesn’t say a whole lot, he doesn’t attract a lot of attention to himself, you may not even know he’s in the room.”
But on the field, Riser said, Goree is smart and “hard-nosed, just because he can come down and make a hit and make a guy see stars.”
The Terps head to Winston-Salem, N.C., to play Wake Forest on Saturday, knowing a win will make them eligible for a bowl game. While attempting to help Maryland achieve that goal on the heels of a 4-8 season, Goree will focus on making guys see stars as usual.
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