LOGAN — The added pressure coming from media, new coaches, new receivers and a bigger leadership role are all things junior quarterback Jordan Love has had to adjust to as his team gears up for its season opener at Wake Forest.
Not to mention, the Heisman Trophy campaign was started earlier this week by Utah State's athletics department.
Despite all that, Love says he hasn’t skipped a beat.
"I just think, 'Go out and do what you can do'; that’s just going to fall into place really,” Love said. “So, I don’t put too much thought into that stuff.”
That "stuff" he referred to is the multiple watchlists he has been added to for conference and national awards.
Love received votes for the Mountain West Conference preseason Offensive Player of the Year award and has since had notebooks featuring his photo with the slogan "Love for Heisman" mailed to the top sports correspondents in the nation. It’s safe to say people around college football have taken notice of Love's potential.
But for Love, that notice hasn’t changed how he practices.
“That doesn’t psych me out at all,” Love said. “I kind of just put all that stuff to the side and keep working forward.”
Adjusting to a new coaching staff has hardly bothered Love, either. With a new offensive coordinator in Mike Sanford and a whole renovated staff, Love said the change has motivated him more than anything.
“I love being coached by them," he said. "I’m excited to go out and play for them.”
In the 2018 season, Love had the luxury of multiple receivers he called his "weapons" on the field at any given time. Three of those main weapons are no longer on the Utah State team, so Love has had to find new targets. But, again, he says that hasn’t changed his game.
“We lost a lot of weapons last year, but I’m going to say it again: We’ve got a lot of weapons coming back and a lot of people that you haven’t seen yet,” said Love, referring to transfers Caleb Repp and Jaylen Warren and returners like Jordan Nathan and Gerold Bright. “I’ve got no problem with that. I think we’re stacked on this team. We’ll go out and prove that when game time starts.”
Of all players who have something to prove on the team, Love is at the top of the list. This will be his first time playing as an upperclassman. Underclassmen have had pressure and leadership roles before, but when Love did great things as an underclassman, fans could always react with surprise at someone talented and mature "beyond his years."
This year, success is expected of him and anything less will prove disappointing — and that's to say nothing of the team, athletics department and university hoping he will end the year with the Heisman in hand.
It’s a role and an expectation he is doing his best to grow into. Trying to be a more vocal leader has been an adjustment for the usually "let my actions speak for me" athlete. But recognizing the need for that leader on and off the field has had him working to fill that position.
Utah State football may have a handful of unknown factors leading into this season, but Love said they will be taken care of once the team gets on the field against Wake Forest.
“This year’s a different year, but we have the same intention of doing (what we did last year) again. We’re just going to go out there and compete and do what we can do,” Love said. “The results will prove themselves.”