Love played corner back in high school, but he was brought to Arizona as a receiver and despite great speed and athletic ability he's never made a huge impact. As a redshirt freshman in 2000 Love mainly saw work on special teams and did not have a catch. Last season Love caught just two passes for 26 yards.
Playing time at wide receiver would have been hard to come by with the influx of three very talented newcomers. With his great athletic ability, Wildcat coaches thought he'd make a good defensive back and so far he has proved them right. Love is listed on the summer depth chart as a third-string corner back, sitting behind Darell Brooks as the back up to Michael Jolivette.
"In high school coaches sometimes play you out of position," Love said. "It is different with Division I coaches. Sometimes they can just look at you and tell that you should be at a certain position. They can just look at your footwork or your personality and tell if you would be a good corner back or a receiver. They will give you a shot."
Love is trying to make the best of his shot and despite leapfrogging some more experienced players, he knows he has more work to do.
"The first thing I need to do is improve my footwork so I can break on balls better," Love said. "Passing drills are not that hard anymore. Since I was a receiver I kind of have an idea of what they are going to do. I just want to improve on my tackling, my physicalness and work on making plays."
Love hasn't shied away from contact after years of trying to avoid hits, but despite his stint at receiver and kick returner the junior also did the dirty work on special teams.
"I've never been afraid to hit," Love said. "I'm on the kick off team. I'm used to hitting the wedge. I didn't know what was going to happen, I'd just hit the wedge."
Love has spent the summer working on footwork. He hopes that by getting his steps in order he can make an even bigger splash come fall.
"My hardest adjustment has been back-pedaling. I am so used to running forwards. Before the switch I had never really back-pedaled at all. I also have to learn to roll with the receivers. I can do footwork in my own. I can do a lot of things to make me more comfortable at the corner back position. I'll work on opening up, turning around and back-pedaling with the receiver."
If Love can continue to improve on the fundamentals, you can expect him to be in the hunt for some serious playing time. He has the raw athletic talent to play corner back, now he must prove that he can learn the techniques and intricacies. Of course having a short memory couldn't hurt either.
Brad Allis is editor of Cat Tracks Magazine. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org