Bloomington, Ind. – If you're looking for a member of IU's 2008 recruiting class to pull for next fall, a good place to start would be Memphis wide receiver Charles Love III.
Love is a 6-3, 190-pounder who recently committed to the Hoosiers after taking his official visit to Bloomington. He's a gifted athlete and explosive playmaker who was also considering Kentucky and Mississippi State before being swayed by the people in Bloomington and the Hoosiers' style of play.
But his prospects for productivity isn't the only reason Hoosier fans should applaud Love. This is an 18-year old who's overcome misery and misfortune to get where he is today.
Love's story began in Milwaukee, Wis., where he was the second youngest of eight siblings. Tragedy struck early in the Love household, as Charles' father passed away in 1992, leaving his mother to raise eight kids on her own.
If that blow wasn't hard enough, Charles' mother passed away as well in 1998. That left eight children, ages ranging from seven to 19, heartbroken and seemingly on their own.
But Charles' aunt, Deborah Love, stepped in to keep the kids together.
"(Deborah) promised her sister on her dying day that she would take care of her kids and make sure they all got out of school," Charles said. "She took us in, made sure we had food and clothes on our back."
Deborah, who's own three children were already grown and out of the house, took the kids in and moved them to her home in Memphis. Money was tight, but Charles knows the tremendous sacrifice that his aunt had to make.
"She's a strong, black woman," Charles said. "She gave me everything I needed – not what I wanted – and brought me a long way."
Along his way, Love discovered football. He said he couldn't play Little League football because the family didn't have the money, but he eventually began playing once he started middle school. His blend of size, athleticism and speed quickly made it apparent that he might have a future in the sport.
Thanks to the tutelage of the likes of former Trezevant H.S. coach Larry Franklin – whom Love says "taught me everything I know" – Love eventually blossomed into one of the top offensive weapons in Memphis.
While his offensive productivity dipped this past fall thanks to an inexperienced quarterback and the inability to throw the ball downfield, Love was still a hot recruiting commodity to a slew of programs, Indiana included. While he said he had been giving serious consideration to Kentucky and Mississippi State as well, his recent trip to Bloomington made it clear that IU was the right place to write the next chapter of his tale.
"What convinced me (about IU) was the people," Love said. "I didn't know I was going to commit until I met the people, I can see myself playing with these guys for four years."
Love credited players such as Brandon Walker-Roby, James Hardy and Brandon Mosley and coaches like Gerald Brown for making him feel comfortable enough with the IU program to be willing to commit. But ultimately he credits his aunt more than anyone for giving him the chance to pursue and ultimately fulfill a dream of playing college football.
"It's been a long time coming and it feels good to put a smile on their face – that's what I've been trying to do for so long, for all the hard work they did for me," Love said. "This is a chance for me to show how thankful I am."
DECKER: Love Deserves Love from IU Fans
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