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Go Big Blue!
Harriman’s Shaquille Love has heard fans say this all his life and now he will hear it for four more years as the 6’5”, 270-pound lineman from Harriman signed his National Letter of Intent Wednesday morning to play football for Joker Phillips’ University of Kentucky Wildcats.
Love had committed to the Wildcats in late September, but he had to wait until Wednesday to make it official per NCAA rules. During that time, however, never swayed from his decision to play for the Wildcats.
“Once I made up my mind it was all Kentucky; that’s where my heart is at,” Love said after making it official. “I’m so excited. I like their coaches, their fan base and the atmosphere. This is overwhelming.”
Love chose the Wildcats over Duke, Vanderbilt, Kansas and Memphis among others and now Love is excited to get the opportunity to play in the Southeastern Conference. Where Love will play has yet to be determined as he excelled on both sides of the line of scrimmage at Harriman.
“I’m ready to get started,” Love said. “They said they’re going to start me out on defense, but I could play on either side of the ball. I’ll do whatever they need me to do and whatever is best for the team.”
Harriman head coach Travis Tapp is also excited for his mammoth lineman and thinks it’s a great opportunity for Love both on and off the field.
“I’ve coached Shaquille for four years and known him since middle school. The whole school and community are excited for him,” Tapp said. “It’s exciting anytime a kid gets a chance to further his education while continuing his playing career and to be doing it at the SEC level is really big. The SEC is the best conference in the country and it really creates a buzz around the community when a player from around here gets that opportunity.
“I’m really proud of him.”
While everyone is happy for Love, not everyone will be pulling for him each and every week as Love knows his Wildcats will be playing Tennessee every year that he is in Lexington. Love also knows Kentucky hasn’t beaten Tennessee in 26 years and that’s a streak he wants to end while at UK.
“That’s probably the number one thing on my list,” Love said of beating Tennessee. “I’m from Tennessee and my family loves Tennessee football, but I want to let ‘em know that Kentucky has something for them.”
Love, however, knows before he can even think about Tennessee week in November that he must be ready for two-a-days in August. He’s even received some advice from his cousin, former Harriman and University of Tennessee great Jermaine Copeland.
“I’ve got to be in great shape,” Love said. “I’m going to have spend a lot of time in the weight room and I’ve got to do a lot of running. Jermaine told me to do a lot of 100s (100-yard sprints) and just be ready for a lot of running in college.”
Tapp says his Big Blue family in Harriman will be there to help him before he heads to Lexington.
“When basketball is over we’ll get with Kentucky’s strength coach and get him started,” he said. “We’ll have him in the weight room and we’ll be working a lot on his agility. He’s got to be in the best shape of his life because this is a whole new level and everybody is going to be good.”