Remember Jordan Love? He was one of the best defensive back prospects that the State of Virginia had to offer in 2008. He was sought after by Penn State, Tennessee, LSU, Florida, and West Virginia—as well as more than a dozen other programs. In the end, the Georgia Bulldogs got him.
His overall speed (4.41), ball skills, and potential made him a very attractive option for the Dawgs' maturing secondary as they were facing significant losses at both the corner and safety spots at the end of the 2009 season.
At the time that Love signed, the Dawgs were set at corner with both Asher Allen and Prince Miller on the roster—Brandon Boykin was likely going to be the third corner listed on the depth chart. That all changed when Allen declared for the draft. His departure left a significant hole in the secondary and, all of a sudden, both Branden Smith and Jordan Love saw an opportunity.
Well, Smith's dynamic ability on both sides of the ball was too good to ignore, and he ended up seeing time early on. Love, by contrast, didn't see any action in 2009. He, instead, was relegated to the scout team.
As 2010 gets underway, the departures of Prince Miller, Reshad Jones, and Bryan Evans have left a bit more room for a player like Love to move up the chart and make a play for more time on the field. However, the lingering questions as he returns from foot surgery will be, can he be the same player the Dawgs signed in 2009?
One of the most vital aspects of Love's game is his speed. He uses it well and coming out of Deep Run High School in Virginia, he was known to lock down an entire section of the field—a true shutdown corner. Will the foot surgery compromise that ability in any way?
In October, a statement from the University stated that Love would make a full recovery. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that he won't be tentative or less aggressive in his approach at first. An injury is an injury, and it has as much of an affect on a player's mental approach as his physical one.
That said, will Jordan Love still be the potential shutdown corner he was hoped to be? Some might say that his recovery doesn't guarantee much of anything. As it were, he had to be pretty far behind to have not played a snap last season—even prior to the surgery—right?
Why was he placed on the scout team? He wasn't redshirted as a freshman and was available to play early in the year, so what was the problem? In my opinion, it had less to do with his ability than his position on the depth chart. The Dawgs simply didn't have the minutes to give to him at corner.
And, the surgery took place just a few games into the season. By Oct. 1, he was already applying for a medical redshirt. Love didn't ever truly have a chance to show what he could do. Even still, none of that changes the fact that he was a highly sought after prospect.
He's got the capability to develop into a very good corner at the SEC level—perhaps even a shutdown one. New defensive backs coach, Scott Lakatos has already been recognized as one of the better talent developers at that spot due to his ability to maximize whatever talent he is given. So, Love is in good hands—coaching wise.
Love will be needed too because the Dawgs are a bit thin at corner and will need guys to step up and play meaningful minutes. There should be little doubt that Love is itching to make a name for himself.
2010 brings the hope of more stability in the secondary where coverage and consistency are concerned, and that means a lot more opportunities for a player like Jordan Love to exhibit his skills. Scott Lakatos has no pre-conceived notions of any of his players. He just wants hard-working guys who are willing to lay it all on the line.
The door is open for whomever wants to walk through it, and chances are good that Love is already knocking.
*Photo courtesy of scout.com