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Catching up with former Maryland basketball walk-on Jacob Susskind

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Susskind has been keeping busy since graduating from Maryland.

Susskind (on the left) stands with fellow walk-on Spencer Barks in the trailer for "The #SussPence Show."
Susskind (on the left) stands with fellow walk-on Spencer Barks in the trailer for "The #SussPence Show."
Screenshot via Youtube

Former Maryland basketball walk-on Jacob Susskind had a memorable time in College Park, achieving a small level of fame in the area despite logging just 22 minutes in his four years on the court.

When Susskind teamed up with fellow walk-on Spencer Barks to host "The #SussSpence Show" in November 2014, he became a popular topic among Maryland fans. In the show, Susskind and Barks asked their teammates to name the vice president of the United States, and only three of the six players they asked were able to correctly identify Joe Biden. The video was taken down from YouTube, but its legacy will live on in Terrapin lore forever.

He started working at an investment firm after graduation, but Susskind is keeping busy in his spare time. He's been running a weekly blog based on a phrase the Terps coined: Love Day.

His mixture of humor through anecdotes from his four years on the team and inspiring tale as a baller whose injuries scared off Division I scouts is unique, and takes you through the mind of a basketball talent whose dreams were hindered, then demolished, but then reborn in a way no one saw coming.

Susskind shared a few details left out of stories already posted online, and gave a little sneak peek of what's to come:

An unlikely assist from Kyrie Irving

Susskind's 6'5, 200-pound frame was made to play basketball, but he was never supposed to be a Terrapin.

By his junior year of high school he was gaining interest from Ivy and Patriot league schools including Lehigh, Lafayette, Bucknell, Princeton, American, Penn, Yale and Brown. Basketball was his ticket to one of America's most prestigious schools, until a fall at a game in Florida going into his senior year voided that plan.

Going up for a rebound, Susskind was taken out by his lower legs and landed on his back. He was carried out on a stretcher and would later learn that he tore ligaments in his back.

He still received interest from Division III schools following a three month recovery period, but the injury kept him off his feet, weakening the muscles he had originally been working daily.

In a game in his senior season, he suffered the nightmare injuries for all athletes: a torn ACL and MCL. An outlet pass from his younger brother ended in Susskind "on the floor screaming in pain," scaring off the remaining schools with interest.

Susskind was forced to apply to schools as a regular student, and after choosing Maryland, his brother encouraged him to walk on to the team. His pure athletic abilities at the time - still recovering from a pair of major injuries - weren't going to be enough to land a spot, so the current investment firm employee used his bright personality and words. "Maybe it was the salesperson in me that kind of talked my way onto the team," said Susskind.

In high school, he played AAU ball alongside current Cleveland Cavaliers guard and former NBA No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving, a target of coach Mark Turgeon's while he was at Texas A&M. Terps assistant coach Scott Spinelli was also college roommates with Irving's father, bringing key talking points and references to Susskind's bid for a walk-on spot.

SussSpence: The Making and the Lost Episode

Still, The #SussSpence Show remains Susskind's greatest legacy from his days as a Terrapin.

The show was short-lived, but thrived in its prime.

Susskind said the idea came from the director of basketball operations Nima Ovidbar, who previously worked at NC State where a duo walk-ons made a similar show: Battle-Cannon.

Susskind exclusively filled Testudo Times in on a highly desired Halloween episode which never hit the big screens.

"We stood on the corner near Smoothie King and the bank in front of Cornerstone," he said. "It was early because we had a game the next day and we had curfew, but we started interviewing people walking by in all the costumes and some of the things people said were very inappropriate."

One can only imagine how it compared to Battle-Cannon's version.

Love Day.

Susskind's site can generate clicks on its own based off the literature, but he has more to offer.

We've seen the term parade over Maryland basketball social media, and now the former Terrapin hooper is lifting the letters off of Twitter and Instagram and onto gameday attire for Maryland fans available on his website Lovedayld.com.

The Robert H. Smith School of Business graduate used his entrepreneurial instincts to trademark the phrase - using a heart which features the Maryland flag to replace the "O," - and bring it to life in his home-away-from-home.

Players from last year's Terps team used the phrase "Love Day" after hearing lines from the movie "Paid in Full."

"You wanna see some love? It's love day. I'm showing people love here on the court," the script reads.

But to the former player there's a much deeper meaning behind the print.

"Love Day. Love the day. Love what you're doing," said Susskind.

Loving the day hasn't always been easy for Susskind or his family. Nine years ago his mother, Shari-Beth, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It was supposed to take a few months for the personal trainer and mother of three to recover, but fortunately it took just weeks.

After recovering, Shari-Beth organized a 5k in her hometown in New Jersey to raise money for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and their family's team name was "Suss and Us." During his time at Maryland, Jacob took advantage of the basketball team's celebrity on campus to promote awareness.

In consecutive seasons the Terrapins partnered with the NOCC to help in raising awareness and the team sported t-shirts.

Recently Shari-Beth was diagnosed with breast cancer, but she is on her way to full recovery.

To recognize both of his mother's fights with the disease, Jacob is donating 10 percent of Love Day profits to ovarian and breast cancer organizations.

"You never know what can happen in life, and I've experienced that through my mom and through other family members who have had cancer or some sort of disease, and that's why it's great to have Love Day associated with that," said Susskind.

"You kind of want to make sure you're enjoying the day and that you love life. I want people to understand that you should live every day like it could be your last and enjoy it and not necessarily hold grudges or be upset about anything, because we're all here and we're all alive and we're all relatively healthy. Everyone does have their own thing going on, but just remember the good things that are happening around you."

2015-16 Maryland Predictions and communication with the team

Just one year removed from the program, Susskind still of course follows Terrapins basketball. He says it's frustrating at times though, clearly seeing what the team is doing wrong and when plays aren't executed correctly on television as if it were the day after the game watching film.

Susskind remains more than just a fan though, as he and all of the players from last year's group are still a part of this year's team group texts. He's impressed by the new player's leadership qualities, especially from Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon.

"After some games, some practices, some guys get heated or get emotional," said Susskind. "Not even that but school or the social aspect of being in college and dealing with different things, you see people lose their cool, just like any other normal person."

"Countless times you see that text from Rasheed talking down and being the mature one. I've also seen that a lot from Robert Carter and Jake [Layman] and a little bit from Melo [Trimble] too."

He's optimistic about the No. 3 Terrapins.

"I believe they definitely have the best talent in the country," Susskind said. "We still have yet to see the great team they're going to be this year. When they [click] they're going to be unstoppable."

What's to come

Susskind has listened to requests for hats and sweatshirts among other ideas for different types of apparel on his new site and plans to expand selection in the future.

In the meantime, he will continue blogging once a week to tell his full four-year tale as a walk-on Terrapin. He's already posted stories on his infamous phone drop in a Maryland bus toilet on the way to the Barclays Center, and has a more elaborate version on his path to Maryland.

You can follow Love Day on Twitter here. Without leaving too many spoilers, Susskind has enough content to write a novel. Look for stories on trying out next to Alex Len and the full details on SussSpence as he tries to chronologically explain the people and events behind Love Day.