Love leaving with degree, rings

TUSCALOOSA _ While the rest of the University of Alabama football team is making the transition from a budding group playing together for the first time this spring, Tyler Love is making a very different change.

Reserve offensive lineman Tyler Love helped Alabama win the national championship in his final game.

The former reserve offensive tackle will be going from student-athlete to alumni, and also fan while cheering for brother Wilson, a defensive tackle who redshirted last season.

“I can’t wait, I can’t wait for him to get on the field,” Love said. “

“He’s real explosive, he’s determined, and he never gives up, that kind of (player). He’s been like that since he was 8.”

Although Love has a year remaining of eligibility, he’s decided to forego it and call it a career. Coach Nick Saban announced the decision last week prior to the team reporting for the first of 15 spring workouts.

One of the headliners of the stellar recruiting Class of 2008 (along with B.J. Scott), Love is on pace to graduate with a degree in financial planning, of which he says: “I’m pretty excited.” He’ll also leave the Capstone with two national championship rings.

“I’ve been pretty banged up the past couple of years,” Love said. “ It just really felt like it was time to hang it up before I did any more damage to my body and I was just ready to leave.

“The class that we had was so phenomenal. Coach Saban and the Tide nation, we had such a great turnout for everything that we’ve done, it was truly a remarkable experience what we went through.”

Love, last year’s roster as 6-foot-6, 307 pounds, received a medical redshirt for his freshman season after a stress fracture sidelined him for all but one game, against Western Kentucky.

He played in six games in 2009, five in 2010, and two last season, against Kent State and Tennessee, despite another chronic problem.

“I have a damaged neck, a little banged-up neck, bad L4,” Love said. “I have a little crack in that. I think I’ve had it for like a year-and-a-half, but I found out after the national championship game.

“Everyone’s got their bangs and bruises in college football, especially in the SEC. The conference we play in is the most competitive, and I guess you would say the most physical conference out there. Everyone who played in this conference is going to have some type of injury no matter what. If you come out without being hurt, you’re very lucky.”

A five-star prospect out of Mountain Brook High School, Love was both an all-state selection and the Class 6A lineman of the year. In addition to Alabama, the Parade All-American was also heavily recruited by the likes of Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia.

“The coaches were very supportive,” Love said about the decision. “They wanted me to do what I wanted to do. There was complete agreement with everyone, so there were no bad feelings or anything.”

Chances are, though, he’ll occasionally still be seen around Tuscaloosa, especially to see his brother play at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

“It’s a great thing,” Love said playing for the Crimson Tide. “There’s nothing else I probably could have wished for during a college career, really, the past four years playing for Coach Saban and his staff.”

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