Love Exemplifies Student-Athlete Concept

Cynics would tell you that the term Student-Athlete is nothing more than a bad college sports cliché. However, Grayling Love, a first team academic and athletic Pac-10 selection has proven that players can excel both on the field and in the classroom. In this exclusive DevilsDigest interview, the center talks about his performance in both of those arenas, as well as his achievements on the basketball court.

The 6-3 301 Grayling Love is a three-year starter, that has already received a few pre-season accolades such as being on the watch list for the Lombardi Award and the Outland Trophy. However, he would tell you without hesitation that his greatest accomplishment in the off-season is getting his undergraduate degree in finance.

"Education is always something that was instilled in me when I was younger," said Love. "My mom is a third grade teacher, and her and my dad always taught me that school is important and education comes first. When football is over, you have to have something to lean back on. To say ‘Hi, I'm Grayling Love, I used to play football at ASU…' I don't know how far that will get you 30 years down the road. I enjoyed studying math, finance, and accounting, so getting my degree, like football, was something I enjoyed doing."

The fifth-year senior is naturally an example for others, and he isn't shy on motivating his teammates to excel academically. "I want guys to be eligible, and let them know that all they need is a 2.0 GPA to be eligible," Love explained. "I understand that not everyone is gonna be the greatest student that likes to go to school. But I tell people that ‘you have five years to get a degree, your education is paid for, might as well get a degree.' If you get a degree it shows that you put hard work off the field."

Love is one of six team captains that were voted by their peers, and together with the other leaders is taking more ownership of how the team conducts itself. "Us six captains took a new role this year, and we're the liaison between the players and the coaches," he stated. "We're disciplining people on our own, and kind of running the show and the coaches just sit back and watch us take over. I do feel like it's a new burden, because last year I still had Drew on the offensive line. I'm a different leader than Drew because I like to lead by example. It's just a different type of leadership, just like Andrew and Sam are different types of leaders."

Much has been said about the remarkable depth on the offensive line this year. The humble center agrees with that assertion. "We have a lot of quality players," Love claimed. "We have two players that already started some games in the past that may not start a game this year. That's a good thing to have. We're gonna have people pushing each other to be better, guys will teach each other, and just step up."

While he agrees with the compliments bestowed on his group, Love realized that the hogs up front still have much to accomplish. "There are a lot of things we need to do better," he admitted. "We need to run the ball better. I enjoy running the ball and want to see Rudy, Cornell, Randy… all have 100 yards each a game. I want to see more rushing touchdowns. I know a lot depends on the play-calling, but we also have to dominate. We also gave up too many sacks as an offensive line and this years I want to cut on it. I just want people to think of us as a solid offensive line that opens holes for the running game and protects the quarterback."

A popular sentiment this off-season is the uncertainty over the effectiveness of the Sun Devils' rushing attack. As the leader of the unit who's greatly aiding with the ground game, Love takes exception with the doubters. "When people talk about ASU not having a good rushing offense, I take that personally," he said. "But people need to look at our scheme. If we're fourth in the nation in passing, we may not run the ball as much as Minnesota who's #1 in rushing. That's just the way our offense is. I do however want to rush over 100 yards every game. So all those questions about rushing the ball, Sam holding under pressure…we take personal offense too. I think you'll see a big chance this season."

Love's trademark has been his versatility, as he played virtually every position on the line during his ASU tenure. Granted, the senior always has been and will be the ultimate team player. Nevertheless, how elated is he going to the center position? "Deep down center is tailor-made for me," he explained. "That's exactly where I want to play. The coaches told me that they want me to play center, so it was kinda of a mutual decision. I feel that at center I can use my strengths to help out the team the most, and help the younger guys with my knowledge of the offense. It also helps Sammy because it's like having another quarterback on the field. There are gonna be some calls that are kind of tricky, and it will help that Sammy and I are on the same page. If it came down to something drastic during the season, you can count on me moving to another position if I need to. I love to play center, but I do want first and foremost to help the team. "

His goals for the upcoming year are fairly simple. "For me it's BCS or bust," Love said. "I came here to win Pac-10 championships and go to the Rose Bowl. This year if we go to the Rose Bowl that's even better because that means we're playing in the national championship game (laughs). We want to win our big games and we need to take care of that. I want to be a dominating team that finishes better than the 9-3 record we had last season. Me and the rest of the captains, we won't let this team slip down. Our goal is to win the Pac-10 and as captains we're gonna do whatever we can to help the team achieve that."

There is however one more goal, albeit one that has been already achieved, that Grayling Love would like to partake in – beating Lady Devils basketball star and girlfriend Emily Westerberg in a pick-up game. "That would definitely be a goal," he said with a wide smile. "We actually played once, and I beat her by one point. We have a mutual decision that because we're both so competitive, we won't play each other anymore. She's just too good of a basketball player for me to play her one-on-one."

"When we played, I told her I wouldn't body her up," Love continued. "But when it was a tie game, my ego got too big and I said ‘I'm not loosing' and I blew right by her and laid it in (laughs). I think she sandbagged it and took it easy on me…but I think playing more one-on-one games could be detrimental to our relationship…(smile)"

Sun Devil Source Top Stories