GRAYLING LOVE EXCELS OFF THE FEILD

Sept. 14, 2005

Because Grayling Love plays center for the ASU football team, he is at a position that is often overlooked by the casual observer, but if you watch him closely, his play on the field, and his character off it, make him hard to miss.

Love's talent on the field is undeniable as evidenced by the preseason nominations the two-time All-Pac 10 player received for multiple national awards. The 6-3, 296-pound senior is considered one of the top centers in the country and a first-day NFL draft pick despite just making the full time switch to his natural center position this season.

'Since I was a little kid I wanted to be a professional athlete but it was never so much a real aspiration, it was more of a dream and if it didn't happen it was all right,' Love said. 'Now as things go on, I would love to play in the NFL but right now my focus is on us having a great year and going to the Rose Bowl. Everything else will take care of its self at the end.'

Off the field he has been just as impressive. Love has thrived in a leadership role throughout his life, and made excellence in the classroom as much of a priority as when he is playing between the lines. Last season he was one of only two players in the conference to earn first-team athletic and academic All-Pac-10 honors.

A finance major who primarily chose ASU because of its business program, Love received his undergraduate degree in May and would like to work in financial planning one day. And although he is likely to be playing football on Sundays next fall, he began working toward his masters degree this semester.

'My mom is a third grade teacher so school has always been important to my family,' Love said. 'I remember when I was in eighth grade, she came and sat in my class and made sure I did well in school. It is something that has been instilled in me since I was young.'

TOEING THE LINE

Love was slated as a center as a freshman but an injury wiped out most of that season. He returned as a redshirt freshman and was moved between center and left guard as coaches looked to see where Love fit in best. The Sacramento native moved around the line for the next two years because of depth at center and other injuries and last year was named all-Pac 10 at tackle after splitting the year at tackle and guard. This season, he will anchor the line where his blocking skills and intelligent play will continue the growing tradition of strong center play at ASU.

'Grayling has played as a center the whole time he has been here if we needed him, it is just that we needed him in other spots and we had other centers that could do a really good job,' said ASU head football coach Dirk Koetter. 'We've always known in the back of our mind that center was the best position for Grayling if we could ever get him there so this was really a no-brainer. He sure is a heck of a player.'

NO REGRETS

Love credits his late father, Grayling, as his sports influence, having been his coach throughout his childhood even though his parents divorced when Grayling was in sixth grade. Grayling Sr. passed away in January 2004 after a six-month battle with cancer and even in death, he still has a strong influence on his son.

'That really changed my life,' Love said of his father's death. 'I learned that you can't take things for granted and you can't waste a day because you never know when your time is up. My dad was 47 and it was only six months that it took for the cancer to overcome him. I saw that life is too short to worry about living with regrets. In the end when I stayed with him for his last month and was his primary caregiver back in Michigan, I forgave him. I realized that you're my dad and I love you. The last words I ever got to say to him was, `I love you and I'm going to name my son after you. So my first born son will be Grayling Love III.''

Love is the leader of the offensive line and as a co-caption a leader of the team. And if the Sun Devils reach their goal of a Rose Bowl appearance, the play of Grayling Love will have a lot to do with it. It will be hard not to notice.

To read the magazine go to http://www.arizonasportsandleisure.com/index.htm

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