Perhaps the tallest obstacle to be scaled at any college football spring practice is a walk-on garnering significant attention from his coaches.
Chris Love had the eyes of East Carolina’s coaches and everyone else in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday afternoon when the player listed on the Pirates’ roster as an inside receiver continued to make a splash as a tailback. In the late stages of ECU’s Purple-Gold game, Love cut to the left side on a running play and broke into the open field for a 71-yard touchdown.
It was a magical moment, but the real trick now is to make his coaches remember his overall spring performance when they’re reunited for August camp.
“Going into spring I guess I was kind of questionable as far as what my role would be, and I’m still kind of lingering on the questionable side, but I feel like I had a pretty good spring,” Love said. “I’ve still got a lot of stuff to work on.”
There was nothing questionable about Love’s speed in the open field on one of just two rush opportunities afforded to him in the team’s final scrimmage of spring camp.
Although it takes more than one play to make a player, Love has been on the minds of ECU’s coaches since the beginning of drills, and was still there Monday when the team closed camp with one final workout.
“You saw (redshirt freshman tailback) Marquez Grayson, Chris Love and (quarterback) Kurt Benkert got a lot of reps,” coach Ruffin McNeill said of the heavy last day for the team’s walk-ons and freshmen Monday. “The older players were coaching up the younger players.”
Like many before him, Love said the biggest adjustment so far has been speed and learning to use his against much faster defenders than the ones he encountered in high school.
He also is paying mind to how quickly his running lanes get clogged at the collegiate level, and he hopes such attention to detail will give him the same dream-come-true results as former walk-on and now two-time 1,000-yard receiver Justin Hardy.
“If you talk to a player and he tells you he doesn’t want to be the main guy on the team, he’s not telling you the truth,” Love said. “(The touchdown) felt good, and I feel like it meant a lot, but I’m not sure. The whole offensive line picked it up, the hole opened up and all I really had to do was run.”