Midfielder Bubba Fairman watched as the Maryland men's lacrosse team rushed the Gillette Stadium field after last season's national championship win over Ohio State. The scene stuck with the nation's No. 2 recruit, who was already committed to coach John Tillman's team when it ended its 42-year championship drought.
Fairman, who grew up in Utah and started following Maryland lacrosse when he was in middle school, was eager to contribute to those kinds of moments with the Terps.
Though his form has been up-and-down as a rookie, Fairman has quickly demonstrated his capabilities, producing highlights on par with some of the program's great first-year players. He recorded a hat trick in Maryland's season-opening win against Navy, and tallied three scores in the No. 2 Terps' victory over then-No. 15 Michigan on Saturday.
When Maryland faces No. 15 Penn State on Sunday, Fairman will have an opportunity to build on his performance against the Wolverines. A win would move the Terps one step closer to a high seed in the NCAA tournament, where they'll push for their second consecutive title.
"His shot is something that doesn't come around too often," attackman Colin Giblin said. "He's a dynamic player who we love to have on our team."
Soon after arriving in College Park, Fairman began working closely with midfielders Connor Kelly and Tim Rotanz to learn the team's offense. He's often followed up practices by posing questions to the seniors, trying to pick their minds for helpful tips.
In particular, Fairman asked Kelly and Rotanz how to improve his shot. He struggled with his shooting mechanics early in the season, but his commitment appeared to pay off during his three-goal showing against Michigan.
"He's such a good kid," Tillman said. "He's a hard worker and a guy who has done just an amazing job for us as a freshman."
Before Fairman emerged as Utah's first Under Armour All-American, he and his two brothers played primarily football and baseball. But Fairman said he knew he didn't have the size or ability to play those sports and wanted to pursue something he "was going to be good at" after high school.
Fairman's dad, Jay Fairman, had experience starting and organizing club lacrosse teams in the area. He suggested lacrosse as an alternative for his son.
"He said, 'I'm never going to make you stop playing a sport, but I'm going to make you quit for a season and try lacrosse,'" Bubba Fairman said. "I fell in love with the game in one season."
Fairman aspired to play lacrosse on the East Coast and spent his junior year at The Calverton School in Huntingtown. He initially committed to Navy but realized he didn't want to live a military-regimented lifestyle during college. So, when Tillman called the summer before his senior season, he didn't hesitate to accept the offer.
He's started all nine games and scored 12 goals, second on the team among Terps freshmen, and strives to be at the right place on the field.
When he started his first game against Navy to open the year, he reflected on the program's prestige as he did last summer in Foxborough.
"The whole spring has been amazing," Fairman said. "Stepping out for that first game against Navy was unbelievable — just being in the atmosphere of Maryland lacrosse."