The 2020 class made their way back onto campus beginning last Monday as the team is now just days away from beginning voluntary workouts. As the program looks to turn the page in 2020, head coach Mike Locksley and the staff are leaning on their 27-man class to continue building foundation for the program.
A big piece of that class involves former McArthur (Fl.) linebacker Ruben Hyppolite, who opted for the Terps over several ACC, Big Ten and SEC suitors. The first team All-Broward linebacker gave his verbal to the staff just a day after his first visit to campus, giving Maryland a key building block on defense. The ensuing eleven months brought new suitors for Hyppolite as Miami, Nebraska and Penn State worked to dethrone the Terps, but while he took in the interest, the persistence and consistency from ace South Florida recruiter Brian Williams kept the four-star in the fold.
Hyppolite returned to campus on his official visit for the Terps' home finale, giving the staff just 25 more days to fend off suitors as Nebraska ramped up their pursuit late. He never wavered, though, and Hyppolite made his pledge official on the first morning of the early signing period as new linebackers coach George Helow inherited yet another piece to a stout linebackers unit.
His senior tape showed the range and bone-crushing hits that Hyppolite has been known to do, but the explosiveness that he brings adds a different dimension to his game. Maryland fans are no stranger to seeing star linebackers come through the program as EJ and Erin Henderson, Shawn Merriman, D’Qwell Jackson and Jermaine Carter were among those to cement their status in the record books, but according to his trainer and former Auburn safety Junior Rosegreen, Hyppolite is next in line. But to understand what separates him, you have to understand his ‘why.’
“What I think drives him is his mom, his sister, his grandma and grandpa. I was talking to a coach and said, ‘Junior, one thing I can say about you is you were legendary at your college, and that’s what I always preach that to him. Anything you do, you’ve got to be legendary," Rosegreen told All Terrapins. "I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish, so when you say you’re going to be better than me, you better show me because I’m from the ‘show me’ state. To be like that, that’s how Ruben looks at it. I’m going to Maryland to be legendary, I’m going to be one of the best to ever do it. That’s his drive.”
Hyppolite began closely working with Rosegreen heading into his junior year. Ab workouts featuring 30-pound medicine balls, monkey bar workouts, Rosegreen keeps Hyppolite and his players on their toes every day.
“When I first met him, he thought the workout was sweet because I was training his mom. His mom kind of nudged me and said, ‘he’s the real deal.’ So first time he came, I put him through a monkey bar workout—no weights, all body weight and pull-ups. I just take pride in being the best that I can be every day, so for him to see that, that just took him to a whole new level.”
That’s when Hyppolite put all his trust in Rosegreen to get him ready. The two continued to train through Hyppolite’s senior year to keep enhancing his skillset, perfecting his craft, regardless of the terrain, all while he stayed laser focused on his goals.
“If you don’t have that ‘Mamba’ mentality, then you’re not going to cut it here. It’s a whole different workout, it’s all mental. I teach them the mental game so that nothing can break them, so I always preach mentality. Everybody doesn’t just get it right off the rip. He has a different gear. He understands what that means.”
The dedication and passion to the process of improvement is when Rosegreen knew he had what it took. “It didn’t matter where he went. He was going to be ready right away, he has the mentality, he has the IQ, he understands what the offense is trying to do, but most importantly, he tries to be perfect everything he does. He doesn’t BS workouts, even if he’s tired, he won’t tell anybody he’s tired. He’s going to fight through it, and unless you know him, you won’t know it—because he isn’t going to show it.”
Hyppolite’s gradual physical transformation helped mold his thick 6-foot, 219-pound frame into an athletic linebacker that delivers range and the hard hits. “He’s got a different mindset, different switch. I always tell him each quarter, you’ve got to hit it another notch. Anytime you turn that switch on it, keep going higher and higher, there’s no limit for greatness.”
Rosegreen left his mark at Auburn, where he totaled 199 career tackles and hauled in four interceptions as a senior against Tennessee. The Florida native is also known for his bone-crushing hit against Georgia wide receiver Reggie Brown—a play tabbed “The Hit” that reminds Rosegreen of Hyppolite.
“When I knocked this dude out in Georgia, I told the news reporter when I hit him, I want to run through his soul and when I come out the back of his back, I want to take his heart with me. That’s how I feel, that’s how I do, that’s what I preach and he feels the same way. Any time he hits somebody, he’s running through them and taking their heart. Every time after that game, they’ll know who number eleven was.“
Hyppolite was slated to enroll in January, but spent just weeks on campus before the coronavirus pandemic sent student-athletes back home. The grind didn’t stop for him, though, as Rosegreen kept up with his workouts to add to Hyppolite’s arsenal.
“We did the same thing. Now, I’m just enhancing what he’s doing so I’m taking his workout to a whole different level. I’m hard on them because you have to be uncomfortable to be comfortable.”
With offseason workouts scheduled to begin on Monday, Hyppolite will look to leave his mark as a freshman in a room with veterans in senior Shaq Smith and juniors Chance Campbell and Ayinde Eley. To Rosegreen, keeping Hyppolite off the field will be tough for the incoming SAM linebacker.
“I keep telling people, he’s going to be the best linebacker to play at Maryland. I know they had EJ [Henderson], I know they had Shawne Merriman, but this is a different type of speed. He’s got DB footwork, and at 235 pounds when you’re a freshman, that’s kind of scary.”