August 12, 2004
CAMP TONTOZONA — Grayling Love and the Arizona State coaching staff are counting on each other's intelligence to get the injured star lineman through a successful season.
Love is still rehabilitating from a post-spring practice surgery on his left shoulder.
He will be limited throughout Camp Tontozona and the fall camp, but Love and ASU coaches anticipate he will available Sept. 2 for the opener vs. Texas-El Paso.
The operative word is anticipate.
"Our concern is we don't get too impatient," said Brent Myers, ASU's new offensive line coach. "We have to let it heal. That's our key with him."
Love said he feels fine and that he was told by his surgeon that the operation last April was better than expected.
"It was more a minor surgery than they thought it would be," he said. "I feel real good about that. It's a lot more stable."
A standout lineman who was named second-team All-Pac-10 last season, Love stands out in practice because he has to wear an orange jersey which signifies his injured status.
He sits out many team drills.
"As far as a re-habbing time frame, I feel I'm progressing every day," the 297-pound Love said. "The doctors feel I'm ahead of schedule."
That may be true, but ASU won’t push it.
"They say I'm going to start against UTEP," he said. "But that'll depend on how my shoulder feels."
In the meantime, Tucson sophomore Stephen Berg and redshirt freshman Brandon Rodd are playing Love's left guard spot, with redshirt freshman Robert Gustavis also getting a look.
Working with Love for the first time, Myers is glowing with praise for the Sacramento, Calif., native.
"He's just a fantastic young man. Great student. Great citizen. Fantastic Christian young man," Myers said. "I have a daughter (and) I hope my daughter marries someone like him."
Not a bad football player either.
"He's a very committed football player," Myers said. "Very smart. Very coachable."
Recruited to play guard or center, the 6-foot-3 Love started all 11 games at right tackle last season.
Myers moved him to left guard for the spring. While saying he would play
anywhere, Love said because of his body type he's more suited for guard and center.
If he had his druthers he'd be at center, but the junior is deferring to his elder, Drew Hodgdon, for this season.
"Drew can take care of it, it's his senior year," Love said, smiling. "We'll see about next year."
"It's like I'm in control," he said. "I make all the run-play calls. For me the mental aspect of the game is something I really grasp well. Something that's a strength. I can instruct everyone where to go."
Myers has been working with Love on technique.
"His footwork. His hand speed. His body balance so he's always playing with great leverage and putting himself in position to be successful on any play we do," the coach said.
Love should have much success this season, once he's able to play.
"I think he's a real gem," Myers said. "I think he's going to have a great season."