If he stopped to think about where he came from and where he is now, Mike Love’s head would probably spin off his shoulders.
How often does a player who did not participate in organized football until eighth grade and didn't line up as a defensive lineman until his sophomore season come to be one of the bay area’s most coveted prospects and wind up signing with USF, his dream school?
That's exactly how things happened for Love, the headliner among a large contingent of Countryside seniors who signed their letters of intent in the school’s media room.
"It’s crazy to think about how far I’ve come,” Love said. “I feel too blessed to be where I’m at. But this is just one step toward bigger things.”
Love, the Times' 2011 Pinellas County defensive player of the year, dominated in the trenches, recording a combined 23 sacks the past two seasons.
But it wasn’t until last month when he started to get recruited by USF, the school he hoped to play for all along.
"I’ve always had USF gear and they’ve been at the top of the list,” Love said. “It’s just amazing how fast everything went with the process.”
Love was among 14 athletes at Countryside who signed before a packed crowd in the media center. The other football players were Joe Ganci (Georgetown), Ryan Pandy (Lehigh), Brandon Pertile (Georgia State), AJ Sattinger (Coastal Carolina) and Jake Smith (Minot State).
The six were part of a successful run by the football program, going a combined 29-1 on the field and winning two district titles the past three seasons.
The other athletes who signed were in softball, soccer, tennis and ice hockey.