Little the Latest Terp

Little

Four times in the last four months Massaponax (Fredericksburg, Va.) inside linebacker Gus Little made the trek up to College Park, Md., to check out the Maryland Terrapins. And on each successive occasion the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder came away more impressed by the Big Ten-bound program. He committed June 19.

Four times in the last four months Massaponax (Fredericksburg, Va.) inside linebacker Gus Little made the trek up to College Park, Md., to check out the Maryland Terrapins. And on each successive occasion the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder came away more impressed by the Big Ten-bound program.

All it took was a formal offer, which Little received during a one-day camp June 1, and a little coaxing from area-recruiter Lyndon Johnson and Co. for the Virginia backer to jump on board. Following his fourth campus visit June 19, less than three weeks after receiving said scholarship, he gave head coach Randy Edsall the pledge.

"I just called Coach Edsall and let him know. He said he was real glad for me and my family," said Little, who chose Maryland over offers from Virginia, Boston College, Marshall, Old Dominion, Army and several Division I-AA suitors. "Coach Edsall said I'm everything he's about and he's going to look out for me like he does all his players. He said he's looking forward to me competing for a linebacker spot next year."

During the most recent foray to College Park, Little and his father and mother had a chance to tour the school with the staff, learn about the academics and get a more in-depth look at the program's future plans. The Littles viewed images of the new indoor facility, saw the proposed players' dorms and listened to the coaches' pitch about becoming prime Big Ten contenders.

"The plan was to commit [June 19]. I wasn't totally sure, but I knew I was really high on Maryland and thought if I felt right on campus today I was going to commit," Little said. "I had never taken a full tour before, but I went around with my mom and dad, and after that we were all locked in. The feel of it, it was just great.

"It was a lot of reasons that played into [my commitment]. I just had a great feeling right away when I was there the first time. It's the spot I fit the best at, and that was a combination of the coaching staff, combination of how close it is to my house, a combination of the Big Ten, a combination of the academics and a combination of how I felt on campus. Definitely the uniforms were nice, the stadium was nice, the weight room and how it overlooks the field, the new indoor facility, the new dorms – all of it was nice. It was a collective deal. At the end of the day it felt right and it's where I wanted to be. I made the pledge and I committed, and I was really excited about it."

At one time Little was considered a heavy Boston College lean as the Eagles offered him early during the May evaluation period and then hosted him for two standout visits. BC's penchant for producing top-flight linebackers, as well as the school's academic reputation, was thought to be enough to persuade Little.

But while he held BC in high regard, the Terps held the upper hand in several key areas.

"It was difficult to turn down Boston College because they did a great job recruiting me and I was honored that they wanted me there, but there was something Maryland had that BC didn't I can't really explain," Little said. "It was just the right feeling at Maryland.

"One thing is Maryland is a chance to play in the Big Ten. I think the Big Ten is a great move for Maryland. It's definitely a different style than the ACC and it's a good move for the school and it's great for me too. It's definitely a high level football and great competition, and I want to play against the best."

In addition, Little relished the opportunity to play in Brian Stewart's 3-4 scheme, believing he can ably fill the "cover" linebacker role most recently filled by Matt Robinson. Although Little is a strapping 230 pounds, he's lean and nimble, while displaying solid foot speed.

"I'm recruited as a true MIKE, and I fit in perfectly there. I'll fit in real well with my style," Little said. "Coach Stewart is obviously a great coach and he knows what he's talking about. I could tell how much he knew just being at the camp and watching him work with the players. It's a honor to have a chance to play in his defense."

At the June 1 camp, Little had a chance to work with inside linebackers coach Keith Dudzinski as well. The Massaponax product raved about UMD's assistant's teaching methods and said he learned plenty to incorporate into his game. In fact, Little heaped praise on every Maryland coach he encountered, noting their football knowledge, energy and passion for teaching.

"I know I learned a lot from Coach Dud. I was there one day, and I doubled my skill set at linebacker," Little said. "That and the combination of competing the entire day with Coach Dud watching, that was great. I feel like he's going to teach me a lot now that I'll be working with him full time. He's really knowledgeable and a great coach."

That applies to Johnson as well, whom Little has developed a rapport with since the winter. Although UMD assistant Chad Wilt now recruits the Fredericksburg area, Little had a previous relationship with Johnson, and Maryland's outside linebackers coach continued that even after his territories changed.

"The fact that Coach Johnson had such a great relationship with me definitely played a role in my commitment," Little said. "He was always straight up with me, and he told me everything I needed to know about Maryland. He told me exactly what I had to do to get offered, and I did that at the camp and got the [scholarship]. I really enjoyed talking to Coach Johnson."

Like almost all the prospects in Maryland's 2015 class so far, academics were of the utmost importance to Little. An honors student, he said UMD's nationally-recognized university, along with Edsall's message of education before football, helped sway him. Little and his father took to the Terps' headman's mantra and his players' high APR rate.

"I'm not sure what I want to major in yet, but I know Maryland is going to set me up and I'll get a great degree," Little said. "They have a variety of different majors you can pick from. Medicine, engineering, business -- I'm thinking about all of those, and I know when I figure out what I want to do Maryland will have a great program for it."

While not as highly rated as some of Virginia's elite talents, Little represents a significant pull for the Terps. Although Maryland was able to land Daniel Ezeagwu from their neighbor's to the south late last year, UMD has had trouble recruiting prospects there with UVA and Virginia Tech having the locals on lockdown (for the most part). The Terps may be shifting their focus further north now that they're in the Big Ten, but they'll undoubtedly continue plugging away in talent-filled Virginia.

"I'm going to help recruit the state of Virginia for sure," he said. "The coaches want me to start getting more people from here going Maryland's way. I'm going to try to get to get the word out about the Terps and change the mindset down here. The kids down here should definitely look at Maryland."

Last year Little racked up over 10 tackles per game and had almost double-digit sacks for Massaponax. He's a versatile, mobile backer in the Alex Wujiack mold and looks to be a solid addition to the Terps' 2015 crop.

"I'm smart, I'm violent, I'm athletic -- a combination of many things. I have good instincts, I can make plays in the open field and I play sideline to sideline," Little said. "But my opinion is you can never be done with your game. You can never rest on your laurels. I need to work on every aspect of my game to be ready for Maryland.

"But now that I'm committed I can start focusing on my game and getting ready for my senior season. The distractions are cut out, I no longer have to worry about recruiting. It's all about my team and my season now, and I'm looking forward to having a great year and then going off to Maryland."

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