Big, athletic offensive linemen are a high priority for college football teams all over the country. Coaches used to say that finding great defensive tackles are the most difficult thing to do in recruiting and that still may be true, but coming up with that offensive tackle that can really protect the quarterback in today's high-powered passing games is just as important.
That is why Tyler Love is receiving so much love across the country. Blessed with great size, Love also has great quickness and had some dominating performances as a junior.
Love admits all the recruiting attention that is pouring his way has caught him by surprise.
"I really didn't think much about it following my junior year," said Love. "I thought I had a good year and everything, but I just didn't think that much about being a high-profile recruit or anything. II am honored if a Division-III or a Division-I coach will call me. That means a great deal to me and I listen to everything they have to say.
"Last year I played all right, but I didn't think I played all that great. I don't know what people really think of me, I just love to play football and I have to say I am surprised how everything has turned out."
Love is being very modest when he talks about his effort last season. If you watch him on film, it looks as if he is a man among boys who is putting on a show every time he takes the field.
"As a team we didn't do that great," said Love. "I guess as an individual I did a lot better than I expected, but our season was just fair. Individually, I actually had a lot better season that I really thought that I would. I improved so much from my sophomore year to my junior year because I worked so hard just to get better in the weight room.
"At our school, we are really big on team and not on individual accomplishments, and that is why I said things were only fair for me last year. Because as a team we didn't do as well as we hoped or wanted to. We finished 5-5."
Love will be a three-year starter and he has played both guard and tackle, but he lines up at left tackle right now. He finished with 120 pancakes last season and has over 30 offers up to this point. But right now he is keeping an open mind.
"I don't have things narrowed down or a top 10 or anything right now," said Love. "My coaches and family want me to focus on spring training. My coaches and family are going to go through everything after spring training is over with and we are going to write out all the pros and cons to all the colleges that I am interested in. Then we will go from there."
"I do have a good understanding of certain schools so that I can point out leading schools at the moment," said Love. " Oklahoma is a school that I am very interested in. Oklahoma has been putting so many offensive linemen into the NFL. When you think of Oklahoma, you think of offensive linemen and right now they are developing offensive linemen better than any other school. Oklahoma is a great football program and they win, which is important to me. I don't know how many years they have been to bowl games in a row or to BCS Bowl Games over the last three to four years, but it is a bunch.
"Florida is very impressive under Coach (Urban) Meyer and they just won the National Championship. I am from Alabama and the University of Alabama is really big. Georgia is hitting me hard just like LSU, Florida State, Clemson and Virginia. It is really overwhelming how many schools are recruiting me. I is going to be a long process to get through them to evaluate them."
Love does have Alabama on his list and since he is one of the top players from Alabama, you have to wonder what kind of interest he has in staying in-state?
"I was born in Alabama and I was raised an Alabama fan, but I am not leaning toward anybody," said Love. "I want to go national and I want to take what I have right now and broaden my search. I just don't want to simply be an Alabama guy. I want to search out everywhere and see what is available for me as an individual, not just because all my friends want me to go to Alabama. At the end, I am going to be the one working my butt off to get better and to get playing time. It is my decision and I want to think things through and look at all my options."
Love benches 360 pounds, squats 480 and he has posted a 26-inch vertical jump. He attended the Auburn and LSU summer camps last year and says this summer is going to be spent traveling.
"I am not going to go to camps this summer," said Love. "I am going to go on a lot of unofficial visits this summer and see what each university is like. I want to see how I feel around the campus. I feel I can learn more about the football program, the coaches and my teammates if I actually see their campus. I have been to Junior Days at Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Auburn. I am going to go to LSU at the end of the month and then over the summer, and I know that I am going to go to Georgia, Florida, Clemson and Florida State. Those are the schools that I have planned to visit right now. I would also like to visit to Oklahoma this summer. I hope we can work that in."
Love has qualified.