Football journey: DL Kyle Love

December, 4, 2010
12/04/10
6:00
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Almost every year in Bill Belichick's tenure as Patriots coach, the team has had an undrafted rookie make the final roster out of training camp.

Defensive lineman Kyle Love joined the group of players overcoming long odds this year.

The 6-foot-1, 310-pound Love played at Mississippi State, and not only has he found a spot on the Patriots' roster, he's also playing. His 22 snaps on Thanksgiving against the Lions were a season-high.
[+] EnlargeKyle Love
AP Photo/Duane BurlesonDefensive lineman Kyle Love, an undrafted rookie, played 22 snaps on Thanksgiving against the Lions.

Love, whose locker is sandwiched between Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren in the team's locker room, shares his football journey with ESPNBoston.com:

When he first started playing football: "It was the seventh grade. A lot of guys started playing Pee Wee football, but I never had the chance. My mother didn't believe that kids should be playing that young. As a seventh-grader, I was actually placed on the eighth-grade team and that was the worst time of my life. It was my first time playing and they put me up with the big boys. I didn't have a clue what to do, so I was getting killed. When they put me back down on the seventh-grade team, it got better."

Positions he played: "Almost everything. I was on the defensive line, linebacker, and everything on the offensive line beside center. I also played fullback. A lot of guys don't believe me, but I was a 230-pound fullback in the seventh grade. We ended up winning the middle school championship my eighth-grade year, with an offense that was tough to stop."

Favorite team growing up: "I'd have to say the Falcons. That was the time when [running back] Jamal Anderson was there and everyone was getting excited, with them going to the playoffs."

Favorite player growing up: "Rod Coleman. He played defensive line for the Falcons and I watched him a lot when I was young. I also liked Warren Sapp."

Top memories at North Clayton High School in College Park, Ga.: "I have a lot of them. I loved all my coaches and teammates. A lot of people say their senior year is the best, but my sophomore year was for me."

Why he attended Mississippi State: "My parents [Anthony and Miriam] really fell in love with it and opened my eyes to see the beauty of it. When I went there, I said 'I kind of like this.' Coach [Sylvester] Croom was a great coach. It was between Memphis and Mississippi State out of all the schools. I liked Memphis, too."

Top memories at Mississippi State: "It would have to be the Egg Bowl between rival schools -- us and Ole Miss. Also, we were in a Bowl game my sophomore year, which was the only Bowl game I got to go to, and we won. It was nice to get a Bowl ring for that."

On not being drafted in the NFL: "I wouldn't say I was surprised. I expected it. You don't want to say that, but the way I looked at it is that all my life I've always been the underdog, the guy who was looked past. A lot of it is my own fault. I just really had to fight my whole life when it comes down it. I accepted the underdog role and wanted to show people that I really can play, and that they were wrong. I came here thinking 'I have to show people.'"

Why he chose to sign with the Patriots: "For one, I really liked the team and Coach Belichick and this 3-4 defensive scheme. I feel like this scheme is where I really fit, on the inside. We played a little bit of it at Mississippi State and I decided this is the best fit for me. Plus, I have this big beast beside me in Vince Wilfork, so I can learn a lot from him. Having him here was like the icing on the cake because people often said I had a similar style of play to him."

Other teams he was considering: "The Falcons and Cowboys were giving me a look. It came down to the Falcons and here."

On making the Patriots roster: "It was like a dream come true. Sometimes it just hits me, 'I'm here. I'm in the NFL. I'm a professional athlete.' It's great. I love it and wouldn't change it for the world."

Top moment in the NFL so far: "I'd say just recently, playing on Thanksgiving, the first game of the day. I got a lot of playing time and made a few plays."

What he's learned about the NFL: "I've learned a lot from Vince Wilfork and [defensive line coach] Pepper Johnson. If one thing stands out, it's how skilled running backs are in reading blocks and setting up blockers, and offensive linemen too. I wouldn't say it's much of a difference with offensive linemen from college to here, except that guys know a little more about how to trick you in getting you in bad situations and bad technique."

Summing up his football journey: "I was thinking about it just the other day, it seems like yesterday that I started playing football. Now you have family and friends saying 'He's in the NFL.' It's hard to believe. It's great."

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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