Two Lovely's Better than One?

This is a story of two brothers bonded by love and bound by loyalty. One is "firmly committed" and set to sign a Letter of Intent with BYU in February and his sibling finds himself temporarily situated between a proverbial rock and a hard place.

The "committed" one is BYU-bound cornerback Gregory Lovely, a 6-0, 180-pound "bounceback" freshman with a 4.38/40, who had a breakout season at Foothill College with 37 tackles, 17 pass break ups, three forced fumbles, four interceptions and one fumble recovery. He has three years of eligibility left.

"My commitment is firm and I'm looking forward to signing with BYU in February," Greg confirmed. "I've passed all my core classes and I'll get my AA after spring term. Pretty much, I'm all set and ready."

The other sibling is Gary Lovely, 16-months younger than Greg, a 6-2, 205-pound linebacker/defensive end with 4.48/40 and 11.1 speed in the 100 meters with a 38" vertical to boot.

Gary was a highly-coveted recruit and actively pursued by Washington State, Miami, USC, Oklahoma, UCLA Nebraska, Michigan, Stanford, Arizona, Colorado and Michigan State out of high school. His high profile accolades as a senior included:

• 2003 PrepStar All-Region Selection
• Rated No. 6 Linebacker on the west coast by Student Sports magazine
• "Bay Area's Best - 1st Team Defense" Linebacker Selection by Student Sports magazine
• 2003 PrepStar Preseason All-American Nominee
• preseason ranked No. 52 best OLB in the country
• 1st Team All-League
• League Utility Player of the Year
• Gunderson High MVP
• Gunderson High Defensive Player of the Year

His college favorite at the time was the Michigan Wolverines, but Gary had one major hiccup that doomed his initial aspirations of gridiron greatness.

Even though he boasted a 3.4 GPA at Gunderson High in San Jose (Calif.) and a National Honor Roll listing, Gary couldn't generate a passing 820 SAT test score despite repeated attempts. The closest he came was 810 – and his GPA could not be factored in at that time.

"Gary's a very bright young man. He had a high GPA, but he just couldn't get over that SAT minimum," Chuck Ball, his Gunderson High School coach recalled today, adding, "He's an incredible athlete. On a scale of 1 to 10 athletically, he's an 8 or 9. What sets him apart is his speed and incredible work ethic, year-round. He has really quick acceleration and closing speed; a real closer," Ball added.

Without a passing SAT score, Gary had few options and chose to play at nearby Foothill College, a junior college, with his brother. Greg, a "bounceback" freshman, was offered scholarships by USC, Oregon and other colleges out of high school. He signed at Sacramento State from high school as an academic non-qualifier, redshirted and transferred to Foothill as a freshman in football eligibility.

As a true freshman starter and despite his lean 205-pound muscular frame, Gary played exclusively as a defensive end and recorded 55 tackles, 5 ½ sacks, 4 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble and 1 blocked PAT.

The "rock and a hard place" dilemma Gary faces is his JC coach (Marshall Sperbeck) does not want him to leave early and was counting on him to be a major contributor at Foothill this fall. Coupled with that is the fact Gary has received NCAA confirmation he is now a "qualifier" and can sign with any Div. 1 program on national signing day on Feb. 4.

"I checked with the NCAA Clearing House myself and they said it was true that I qualified now. I'm guaranteed, 100% qualified," an elated Gary said today.

TBS' attempts Wednesday to contact Foothill College head coach, Marshall Sperbeck, were unsuccessful.

Gary has remained under the recruiting radar because most colleges think he has to play another year in JC plus the fact he is a "tweener" – an obvious college linebacker in size, stature and speed even though he's used predominantly as a very light, but effective defensive end. A direct consequence is he does not have startling stats he generated as a high school junior – 100 tackles and 20 sacks – or as a senior – 80 tackles and 12 sacks.

"If BYU offered me a scholarship now, my answer would be ‘Yes!'" BYU is a great school and a program with a lot of tradition. It would be great if I could play there with Greg. We've been playing football together since my freshman year (high school). We feed off each other and help each other become better players and athletes all the time," Gary added.

Gary would have three years of eligibility with a redshirt year available.

Greg confirmed this afternoon he received a call today from a BYU assistant coach that the Cougar coaching staff were now "seriously evaluating video footage of Gary."

"It's unbelievable. I really hope we get the opportunity to play together at BYU. I know he'd (Gary) be a big asset with his blitzing ability, plus it's a great environment for us. The other main reason we want to go to BYU is because they stress academics," Greg said.

The positive synergy of a Lovely brother combo at BYU, Greg noted, was that "we always improve each other's game. He's a hard worker and always dedicated to whatever he does – and that really rubs off on me. I can tell you Gary's really strong for his weight. He can hold his own against guys that are over 300 pounds. With his speed, he can really elevate his game. If he plays at BYU, he'll probably be able to finally play his true position (linebacker). He's always had to play out of position because he's such a great athlete."

The unfeigned love and loyalty between the two brothers is immediately explained after a short conversation with their mother, Lynn Lovely, who raised all her four sons – Glenn (24), Greg (19), Gary (18) and Geoffrey (17) – on her own the last 19 years, while also juggling two jobs at the same time since 1989.

"I raised them to know that ‘your friends will come and go, but your brothers will always be there' and to look after each other," she said, adding that "we moved to San Jose 15 years ago and our area is called ‘Barrio Horseshoe,' which used to be heavily populated by gangs.

Sports, she added, has been a savior of sorts for her and them. "That's why I got them into sports. It's definitely been rewarding attending all their sports and to see all their accomplishments. It's been stressful and I've had to be harder with them, but I would do it all over again," Lynn continued.

"That's why I kept them in sports because of all the positive male role models, especially as a single mom. It has kept them off the streets. They (Greg and Gary) have always been very close, I guess, because they're only 16 months apart and they've played football together for a long time."

She said she was not very familiar with BYU, but hoped her sons would be able to play together for the Cougars. "From what I've heard, it's a good school. As long as they go to school and get a good education and stay out of trouble, I'm all for that. I know that no matter where they go, they will be successful because they are very committed and determined."

A doting and protective, loving mother, Lynn said she was mentally preparing herself now to be separated from her sons. "My oldest son, he's 24 and he just moved out. It' hard but he's ready. He's graduating from college (San Jose State) and I can sleep knowing he can feed and support himself now."

Asked to provide a final thought and advice for Greg and Gary, Lynn Lovely paused a moment and concluded, "I just want them to be successful, happy and committed. I tell them all the time to stay committed to school because girls will come and go like the bus, every 15 minutes…"

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