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After months of weighing his options, Harriman senior Shaquille Love has chosen to play football next fall at the University of Kentucky.
Love had scholarship offers from several schools including Division I programs such as Kansas, Memphis, MTSU, Vanderbilt and Duke with several more possibly on the way, but Love felt the time was right to make his decision.
“I've prayed about this a lot and I feel this is where the Lord wants me to go,” Love said. “I really like the atmosphere at Kentucky and I really like the coaches. Plus it's not too far from home.”
Harriman head coach Travis Tapp was equally excited for his 6'5”, 280-pound lineman.
“I'm really happy for him,” Tapp said. “I know this takes a lot of pressure off him. I know he's prayed a lot about this and I'm glad he's got the guidance he needed.
“I think he made a great decision. Kentucky's a good school, he's getting to play in the SEC, and the main thing is that he will be playing for some really good men.”
A name familiar to East Tennessee football fans was responsible for landing Love for the Wildcats as former Tennessee Vol QB and offensive coordinator Randy Sanders handled Love's recruitment.
“I like Coach Sanders a lot,” Love said. “He's a straight shooter and I like that. He's also from around here and I like that also.”
“I know Coach Sanders was excited when he got the news,” Tapp added. “They know he's a kid that's going to keep getting better.”
The first thing Kentucky has to decide is where to play the mammoth lineman. At Harriman, Love starts on both sides of the football and has skills that make him a solid prospect on either side of the line of scrimmage.
“The defensive line is where they want me first,” Love said. “I don't know right now if it will be at tackle or end.”
While most are happy for Love, there will no doubt be some that wanted to see him in a different uniform, preferably Tennessee orange. Love, however, felt it was better to turn down a possible offer from Tennessee than to not obey what God wanted him to do.
“I know a lot of people around here are Tennessee crazy, but when God tells you something you need to do it; He doesn't make mistakes,” Love said.
Love will be joining several players from East Tennessee when he heads to Lexington and Love says he will look for guidance from players such as former Alcoa stars Randall Cobb and Kyrus Lanxter.
“It's good knowing they're some guys from this area on the team,” he said. “They can help me adjust.”
However, before he starts worrying about the Big Blue of Kentucky, Love said his main concern is the Big Blue of Harriman.
“I've just got to keep playing hard,” Love said. “We've got to keep improving as a team and hopefully we can make it all the way to state.”
“It's good that he's made his decision, but Shaq's never said too much about it or let it become a distraction,” Tapp added. “He's been going about his business each week and all he's been worried about is Harriman football.”