L.A. Goree redshirted his first year at the University of Maryland, College Park. Then, after becoming an honorable mention freshman All-American, he was right back on the sideline as a reserve last year.
In other words, the former Charles H. Flowers High School star linebacker has been frustrated with his playing situation a majority of his time at college.
“At first, I just wanted to ball up and be to myself,” Goree said. “... I just needed something to turn to.”
Goree had a friend who meditated, but he gave it no thought.
“I probably would have thought it was silly if you’d have asked me,” Goree said. “’What? Meditation? That don’t make any sense.’”
Eventually, Goree tried meditating, and immediately, he knew it would help his outlook.
“I’m not very religious, but I’m very spiritual,” Goree said.
Goree writes poetry, thumbing verses into his phone as they come to him. He lost many of his poems when he switched phones, but he’s more careful about saving them now. He’s even considering speaking at open-microphone nights in Washington D.C.
But taking his poetry public can wait. Right now, he’s busy with football.
Goree opened fall practice as No. 1 on Maryland depth chart at inside linebacker, and he doesn’t plan to lose his spot.
“He knows that’s his position,” inside linebackers coach Keith Dudzinski said. “He’s playing with a lot more confidence.
“I’m hoping I see a lot of big things out of him.”
Last season, Goree successfully hid his insecurities from Dudzinski after losing a tight preseason battle to eventual starter Demetrius Hartsfield.
“L.A. always got himself ready to play each week,” Dudzinski said. “Whenever his name was called, he went in and did a good job.”
But beneath the surface, meditating alone didn’t solve all Goree’s issues. He said he relied on support from friends and family in Springdale.
Flowers coach Mike Mayo told Goree to let his character carry him. Goree’s father, Lorne Goree, told his son to remain patient because life is full of ups and downs.
Goree often spoke with his dad during games his redshirt year, when didn’t travel and felt particularly down.
“Sometimes, you’ve got to wait for your turn,” Goree said. “It was hard for me, realizing that. It was real hard for me realizing that.”
“I’m really excited,” Goree said. “I can’t stop talking, can’t stop dreaming.”
No matter what Goree does his final two seasons of eligibility, his first three years at Maryland still shape him.
“I got over — I didn’t completely get over it, that I wanted to play so much,” Goree said. “I understand why it happened, and I understand that it made me better in the process. I understand that it was a blessing in disguise.”