University of Maryland sophomore linebacker Ruben Hyppolite has a unique connection to Baltimore Ravens legendary linebacker Ray Lewis that has shaped his evolution and growth as a football player.
A native of Hollywood, Fla., Hyppolite attended the Ray Lewis Academy twice, winning MVP honors his second time at the camp, which is based out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The academy offered Hyppolite the opportunity to meet and interact with a player he idolized growing up.
“I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down and have a conversation with him during his academy,” Hyppolite said on Glenn Clark Radio April 22. “He knows of me through the recruiting process and it was just great to know that he [knew] of me and what I was about. It was just great getting to know him and talking to him.”
While Lewis’s skill set on the field is well documented, his leadership skills were among his most important qualities as a football player. The middle linebacker often acts as the quarterback of the defense, relaying the signals to everyone else.
That type of leadership is something that Hyppolite has looked to replicate during his time in College Park. From practice to scrimmages to games, Hyppolite is striving to be that kind of impactful figure on Maryland’s defense moving forward.
In his first season, the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Hyppolite finished with 18 tackles and two sacks, appearing in four of the team’s five games.
“Ray Lewis was the type of guy where he wears his emotions on his sleeves and it’s in a good way,” Hyppolite said. “He shows the way he carries himself, and the way he plays the game, you gravitate toward that. People will do anything for that guy on the field, and that’s who I aspire to be every day while I’m on the practice field, scrimmages, [during] games, whatever. I just want to be that voice.”
Leadership is one of the areas where Hyppolite continues to grow, embodying a philosophy that head coach Michael Locksley has instilled since arriving at Maryland. Locksley has emphasized the importance of getting 1 percent better each day to the coaching staff and players.
Locksley’s message of consistent improvement is one of the reasons Hyppolite was drawn to College Park. Unlike many of the talented players in his home state of Florida, Hyppolite wasn’t focused on the marquee programs in the state. Instead, he wanted to be part of changing the culture at Maryland, where his vision aligned perfectly with Locksley’s.
“I wanted to go somewhere where I could make a difference and I really could make a change and be the face of that organization, if you will,” Hyppolite said. “I had faith in his vision and I really was able to talk to him and really see where his head was at. He’s a great guy and a great coach and I have the utmost respect for him.”
The foundation focused on daily improvement has already yielded some solid early returns. Last season, Maryland defeated Penn State 35-19 on the road in State College, beating the Nittany Lions for the first time since 2014.
Hyppolite played a key role in that victory, posting season highs in tackles (seven) and sacks (two). However, Hyppolite wasn’t surprised by his strong performance, as he envisioned making a substantial impact throughout the week in practice.
“The Penn State game was probably top five on my list of best things to happen in my life,” Hyppolite said. “Coming into that game, making the plays that I made, I envisioned making those plays the whole entire week, so I was just grateful for the opportunity.”
After completing his first season in College Park, Hyppolite figures to be a key part of the Terps’ linebacker corps in 2021 along with Fa’Najae Gotay. Five-star recruit Terrence Lewis tore his ACL and will be out for next season, hurting the depth at the linebacker position.
The drive for daily growth is one of the reasons that Hyppolite believes the team isn’t far away from building success in the grueling Big Ten East.
“With that message that he preaches it allows us as players, it allows the coaches, it allows the staff to put their best foot forward every day,” Hyppolite said. “That’s why we’ll be able to do great things in the near future in this conference.”
For more from Hyppolite, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics