Opinion: Sting of injury lessened by Love

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Charlie Weis’ uncensored tongue has the Big 12 media buzzing, but it’s the news about talented junior college linebacker Marcus Jenkins-Moore undergoing knee surgery that has the Kansas University football fan base steaming.

First, deluxe defensive end Chris Martin misbehaved his way off the roster, and then Jenkins-Moore suffered a knee injury that required surgery.

It could be worse. At least one of those competing to fill Jenkins-Moore’s spot is an experienced outside linebacker who a year ago maximized the talent in his undersized body and made surprising contributions.

Jake Love, who has added more than 15 pounds and is listed at 6-foot, 221 pounds, is neither as tall nor as fast as Jenkins-Moore, but he does lead with his chin and play with a recklessness in how he puts his body in harm’s way.

A third-year sophomore from Tonkawa, Okla., Love has worked hard in the weight room and looks less like a safety playing linebacker than he did a year ago. He definitely played like a linebacker though. Ben Heeney wasn’t the only one who brought a rugged edge.

“I feed off of Ben a lot,” Love said during a spring football chat. “He’s kind of like a wild man out there. He’ll throw his face up into anything. Just being able to watch that, you see him make a big hit, and it will pump you up and make you want to make a big hit.”

Love made plenty of those a year ago, including eight tackles for a loss. He also credits Heeney with motivating him during the offseason

“Even in the weight room as well,” Love said. “He’s 100 percent all the time. I kind of look up to him. I’m trying to learn from him.”

Love did a little bit of everything in high school. In his junior season alone, he rushed for 2,856 yards and 47 touchdowns, registered 122 tackles and four interceptions and won state titles in wrestling and the long jump.

He’s plenty athletic, but his size held him back at times last season. He said there were times when he’d go up against massive offensive linemen and “get pushed around a little bit easier. I think adding 20 pounds will help me be a better run-stopper.”

Even if Jenkins-Moore’s injury forces him to red-shirt, Love will face competition at outside linebacker, most notably from speedy red-shirt freshman Courtney Arnick and junior college transfer Samson Faifili.

“There will be more depth,” Love said. “I love that. Overall, it will make everybody better because you‘ll be competing for a job.”

Competing is what Love does best. Don’t count him out.