Known for its scorching hot weather, beautiful beaches, notable fast food and lavish lifestyle, there are plenty of things to love about California. When thinking about "living the American Dream," it’s where most people would choose to live out their biggest dreams.
At Utah State, there's another dream being realized.
Jordan Love’s story starts long before setting records inside Maverik Stadium to the hardwood where his sports journey began. His father, Orbin, who was a standout athlete playing running back and quarterback; but because of his son’s slinky frame, he wanted him to start out as a basketball player.
Love was forced to go to middle school tryouts, and from there, his talents were so superior he quickly became the star during his two seasons at Rosedale Middle School.
Entering high school, there was plenty of buzz about Love, but it continued to only be in basketball. This is where the next step of his father's plan was implemented, and he wanted his son to follow in his footsteps by playing quarterback.
After working on his fundamentals and attention to detail as a basketball player, Orbin was hoping that the same focus would spill onto the gridiron. Even though he never advanced past junior college, he knew his son had the potential of being far greater. But Orbin’s experiment didn't take away from basketball. The sequence of steps in his father's plan was fully in motion, but it would suffer a roadblock followed by a massive blow.
July 13, 2013, is a date Love will never forget. Like he had done every summer before, he was on the basketball circuit. At 14 years old and entering his sophomore season at Liberty High School, basketball was still the love of his life even though he spent his first season as the backup signal-caller on the freshman football team.
Love had three other sisters, but on this day, only one, Alexis, accompanied him. His parents rarely missed any of his games, but on that day, things were different. Glancing into the faded bleachers and only seeing his sister sitting under the somewhat dim gymnasium lights made this day feel much different than others.
His mother, Anna, arrived shortly after tipoff, but to her surprise Orbin was nowhere to be found. She curiously asking her daughter about his whereabouts and Alexis mentioned he had forgotten an item at home he needed. Anna quickly drove home, repeatedly attempting to touch base with him. Orbin had died by suicide.
Love had spent the most time with Orbin as he laid the groundwork for what would be an accomplished collegiate career and a budding NFL one.
Orbin tried to hide his mental struggles and uphill battle with depression from his son, but Love had a feeling that something was bothering his father.
The news hit Love hard. He continued to be in a dark state of disbelief but eventually asked what was the next step in his father's plans. After piecing the puzzle together himself, it all began to click prior to his junior season.
Love went on to finish with a historic high school career as a starting quarterback for the varsity team. During his senior season, he orchestrated a high powered offense and collected 2,148 passing yards and 24 touchdowns as a dual-threat option. He also accumulated 806 yards on the ground while carrying it 128 times and another eight scores.
To boot, Love led the program to its first Division I Central Section Championship.
The once skinny 14-year-old, who only wanted to be a point guard at the time, had now turned into a 6-foot-2, 190-pound flame thrower. It was the same image Orbin had in mind and laid the beginning steps for during his first tryout in the seventh grade.
Love transitioned into the collegiate ranks where his career got off to a slow start. He redshirted his first season (2016) before emerging to start the final six games the following year.
Love set the single-season school record following a 1,631-yard performance that included eight touchdowns. He was at the center of attention and entered his sophomore campaign as a full-time starter. Love went on to set five single-season school records along the way that included passing yards (3,567), touchdowns passes (32) and 300-yard passing games (seven).
Love was facing a season that could catapult him into the discussions of being one of the first quarterbacks selected during the 2020 NFL Draft. After losing head coach Matt Wells to Texas Tech and many of his weapons to graduation and the draft, Love was tasked with learning a brand new system and developing chemistry with unfamiliar surroundings.
The opinions remained mixed as he endured what was seen as a step back from what we saw a year ago. His stats — 20 touchdowns to 17 interceptions — will certainly be talked about, but the traits and upside are certainly there. But his performance at the Senior Bowl exposed some accuracy concerns.
The week in Mobile, Alabama, was a microcosm of Love's draft stock and why so many reviews remain mixed as to what he will become in the future. Because of the value of quarterbacks in this year’s class, Love will have some fans while others will be reluctant to draft him. Over the course of the next three months, Love will be the topic of conversation but there won't be a common consensus one way or another because of the unpredictable nature of his collegiate career.