True love trumps draft? That’s kind of the case for USF DL Mike Love

USF defensive end Mike Love (98) celebrates the sack on Tulsa quarterback Chad President this past season.  (Octavio Jones, Times)
USF defensive end Mike Love (98) celebrates the sack on Tulsa quarterback Chad President this past season. (Octavio Jones, Times)
Published April 17 2018

Mike Love has spent countless hours working out to sharpen his combine-taking skills. He has been timed and tested, scrutinized and measured, by scouts and general managers.

The payoff could come April 28, the third and final day of the NFL draft. That is when the former Countryside and USF defensive lineman is projected to be taken.

Love is not planning a draft watch party. In fact, he is not watching it all that Sunday.

Instead, Love will be a groomsman in his cousin's wedding.

"Hopefully, I'll still be able to keep tabs on it," he said.

If Love is selected, it will fulfill a lifelong goal.

That goal started to come into focus in the spring of 2017. Love met with head coach Charlie Strong and defensive ends coach Damon Cogdell.

"They were telling me I definitely had a shot to make it in the league," Love said. "Coach Cogdell was really pushing me to do more, to put in the work."

Love always had the talent. The 6-foot-4, 266-pound edge rusher is quick and efficient. He can be a disruptive force.

The problem has been staying healthy.

As a freshman, Love redshirted after one game because of injuries. He played just three games the following season. He has had surgery on both knees and broke his foot during his college career.

Once Love overcame the injury bug, he was able to show off his potential.

As a sophomore in 2015, he had 10 tackles and a sack. Love's breakout performance came two years ago as a junior when he started nine games and posted 27 tackles and three sacks.

"I just had to become more consistent," Love said. "By 2016, I started to get into the groove and really made a big jump. I started to play way faster.

"I was able to stop thinking and just move. It takes a while to get used to the tempo and the speed of the game, not just in college but at every level."

Last year, Love had 28 tackles, 11 for loss, and 5.5 sacks. has given him a prospect grade of 5.15, meaning he will have an above-average chance to make an NFL roster.

Love already has flown to Green Bay, New York and Washington for interviews. He has talked with Minnesota and Tampa Bay.

Now it is time to wait.

"If I'm selected, it will be a pretty nice celebration at the wedding," Love said. "But I know I'll continue to work regardless."