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Keith Taylor: Transfer Love a big influence to UK newcomer Kash Daniel, ready to showcase skills


Courtney Love has yet to play a game at the University of Kentucky but he’s already had a big influence on his teammates.

Love, a junior transfer from Nebraska and expected to be the team’s starting middle linebacker this season, sat out last season because of NCAA transfer rules. In addition to his own development, Love has been mentoring his teammates, including Kentucky Mr. Football Kash Daniel, also a linebacker.

Courtney Love is ready to showcase his skills after sitting out last season (Keith Taylor Photo)

Courtney Love is ready to showcase his skills after sitting out last season (Keith Taylor Photo)

“He’s like the big brother I never had,” Daniel said. “He’s always testing me and making sure I keep my head on straight and I’ve got my grades up. He’s really just a true leader. He hasn’t played a down here yet, just the fact that he’s showing that kind of leadership just shows what path this team is on. We’re not going back, we’re going straight forward.”

Love is expected to anchor a linebacker corps that has a proven track record but not the experience. Love will be joined by outside linebacker Denzil Ware and Jordan Jones, both sophomores, who gained valuable playing time last season. Ware collected 39 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for a loss, while Jones began his collegiate career with 10 tackles.

Despite the overall inexperience, Love isn’t worried and likes the potential that exists at the linebacker slot.

“We definitely want to be better than what we have (in the past),” Love said. “None of us have really played (a lot) and now it’s time to show what we have to offer. No one really knows exactly what we have and it’s kind of a gray area, especially with the linebackers, because nobody has played. We only have a little high school (experience) and I have a little bit of college (experience). I’m ready to go out there and show Kentucky what this linebacker corps has to offer.”

Although he has just six collegiate tackles to his credit, the Nebraska transfer will be counted on to anchor a defense that returns just one starter on the defensive front.

Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow brought Love to Nebraska and later influenced Love’s decision to transfer to Kentucky. Love, a standout performer at Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown Ohio, was recruited by powerhouse programs Nebraska, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan State as well as Illinois and Indiana.

As a senior at Cardinal Mooney, Love recorded 11o tackles, 19 tackles for a loss and registered nine sacks. Although he didn’t post the same kind of numbers at Nebraska, the Wildcats are banking on his past success in the high school ranks and his potential to become one of the top linebackers in the Southeastern Conference.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has high hopes for Love and hasn’t been disappointed in his work ethic and leadership abilities since he arrived on campus.

“Courtney — he is a special leader,” Stoops said. “He is a guy that it does come naturally to because he lives it every day. He’s not afraid to be unpopular. He challenges guys the right way. He lives the right way. He’s special. I have seen him for a long time and known him for a long time. That’s documented. You’ve heard me touch on it. But he’s a great kid and a great leader.  He’s what you want in the middle of your defense. Let’s hope he plays at a high level and we’ll see. He’s got to prove himself and he knows that. He’s not shying away from that.”

In addition to his athletic skills, Love wants his leadership abilities to expand beyond the field.

“I just want to be the best leader I can be, on and off the field and in the community,” Love said. “I just want to help lead this team and get to where we want to get to and accomplish the goals we set out at the beginning of the year and just get better every day. Every single play and every single rep, we just want to make good use of that.”

Love admitted watching from the sidelines was difficult at times last season, but said the year off proved to be beneficial in the long run.

“It was tough just because I had to sit out, but I expected that,” he said. “As a player, you want to get better and help the team get better. I knew what my role was with the team. It was the right timing.”

The wait will soon be over for Love. Kentucky opens the season against Southern Mississippi on Sept. 3 at Commonwealth Stadium and he can’t wait to get back on the field and showcase his skills.

“Sitting out was fine, but now it’s time to go,” Love said.

Keith Taylor is a senior sports writer for KyForward, where he primarily covers University of Kentucky sports. Reach him at keith.taylor@kyforward.com or @keithtaylor21 on Twitter


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