|Jordan Love of Liberty (Bakersfield) is continuing the Patriots' lineage of national recruits. But it's the last game of the 2014-15 season that sparks his desire to get better (photo contributed).|
What motivates Liberty High School (Bakersfield) Class of 2016 quarterback Jordan Love this season on the football field?
For an incoming senior who’s the most recruited signal caller in the Central Section, it’s not the five scholarship offers – including a recent pledge from Utah State on Tuesday, June 9 - that fuels him. It’s not the PAC-12 talent who’s cemented their legacy in a Patriot uniform like Anthony Mariscal (Arizona), Cody Temple (USC) or his current 2016 teammate Krys Barnes (UCLA commit) that inspires him.
Love says it’s the aftermath of a thrilling Dec. 2014 contest that drives him for 2015-16.
“Our expectations at Liberty High are higher this year especially since we couldn’t finish it off last year,” Love said. “We’re now trying to get a ring, knowing that others (from Liberty) have come and tried.”
Love was underneath the bright light bulbs of Sunnyside High School’s football stadium in Fresno on that Dec. 5 night, as he guided the Pats to the Central Section Division I championship game with a juggernaut awaiting them. Love and the Patriots were seeking their first-ever DI crown and the school’s first section championship since 2001, when the Patriots were in DIII.
Liberty’s opponent? An Edison Tiger team stockpiled with college football talent and entering the game as the No. 1 seed in the DI bracket.
A potent Patriot offense that came in averaging over 33 points a game was kept in check by a swarm of players clad in black and yellow. Love was intercepted twice and went 10-of-30 passing, the dynamic Mariscal was held to 60 yards rushing and the Tigers’ defense forced three turnovers on the evening. The Pats tried slaying the biggest and baddest dragon in the Central Section, but left Sunnyside High with a 21-14 loss and a missed chance at the DI title.
Now, just like his Liberty teammates, Love has hit the offseason training period hard with the hope that this time, the Pats don’t fall short.
“I’ve been working on my skills ever since last year ended,” Love said. “I’m just trying to become more accurate and be a better passer.”
This offseason, Love connected with renown quarterback guru Steve Calhoun, who’s mentored and trained various NCAA DI and NFL quarterbacks, and Armond Hawkins, who’s the founder of 7-on-7 club football powerhouse Ground Zero. The Inland Empire based team has garnered a reputation for winning state and national tournaments while producing national recruits in the process.
Once known in Kern County as a poised deep ball thrower, Love has improved his zip and accuracy when it comes to striking the ball toward the middle of the field. He’s also rebuilt his field vision and developed a quick release during club games with Ground Zero.
The 6-foot-3 Love has since piled up the offers. Along with his recent pledge from the Aggies, he holds scholarship offers from Eastern Washington, Sacramento State, Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado; all four from the Football Championship Subdivision. He’s joined Barnes, Matt Hubble and Quincy Jountii as Liberty’s top college football prospects for the 2016 class.
Love said he has no idea when he’ll announce his future college home.
“I don’t really have a time frame right now, but I’m guessing it’ll be before the season starts,” Love said.
The season begins with an Aug. 21 scrimmage against El Diamante (Visalia) at Gropetti Stadium. The regular season kicks off on Aug. 29 with a home game against Southern California powerhouse Mission Viejo.
While Love holds the most NCAA DI offers among Central Section quarterbacks and stars on one of the heavy favorites to win the 2015-16 section DI championship, does he consider himself the best quarterback in the corridor of Fresno and Bakersfield?