Love at five different positions

It's not often that an offensive lineman is considered for one of college football's most prestigious awards -- at least those that aren't given to linemen every year. But Steelers rookie Grayling Love has a different story.

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Grayling Love was a finalist for the Draddy Trophy -- an award considered to be the "Academic Heisman" -- during his senior season at Arizona State.

It's that intelligence the Steelers found so appealing when they signed Love as a rookie free agent following the draft.

"I think that's my biggest asset," said Love, a 6-3, 296-pound center. "My intelligence really helps me absorb the playbook. It's something that has carried me throughout my football career."

Don't get the idea that the two-time All Pac-10 Academic Team choice can't play football as well. In fact, last season he was one of just threeplayers named to the all-conference and all-academic teams.

Those weren't his only honors, either. Love was also named one of eight finalists for the 2005 ARA Sportsmanship Award; was a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy, which is regarded as the "Humanitarian Heisman"; was one of three finalists for the Bobby Bowden Award, presented annually by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes; earned the Pat Tillman Valor Award, formerly the Sun Devil Valor Award, at Arizona State's year-end banquet; was a co- winner of the Cecil Abono Co-Captain Award at the year-end banquet; and was selected as a National Scholar Athlete award winner, from which he earned $18,000 toward post-graduate studies.

"I've always taken my studies very seriously," said Love, who majored in finance at Arizona State and someday hopes to be an accountant. "But I also take football very seriously."

A three-year starter, Love finished his career for the Sun Devils as a center, the position at which he's playing for the Steelers. But he also started a number of games at both tackle and guard positions at Arizona State as well.

"I started six games at guard and six games at left tackle as a junior. I think my versatility is something the Steelers like," Love said. "I know there are only so many roster spots on game day and they like to have linemen who can play multiple positions. I'm working at center right now, but I've played every position on the line, so I have that experience."

He also is smart enough to realize there are few roster spots open on the offensive line for the defending Super Bowl champions.

"The first time I walked into the locker room, I was like, 'Wow, there's Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward and Alan Faneca,' " Love said. "I mean just a few months ago I was watching these guys in the Super Bowl and now here I am, working in the same locker room with them. It's pretty amazing. But I'm working hard to show that I belong here. I wanted to show the coaches that I can handle everything that they throw at me."

(Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Washington Observer-Reporter.)

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