Each year the staff at South Carolina State conducts a "draft" and asks players to pick the 12 best players on the roster. Last fall, 56 of 60 Bulldogs took tight end Arther Love with the No. 1 pick.
"Arther was obviously highly respected by everyone," said Daryl McNeill, the school's tight ends/wide receivers/quarterbacks coach. "It's very seldom that one kid makes that kind of impression because most of these guys are only close with a handful of others. The way Arther carried himself on and off the field stood out."
Love, who had a 3.0 GPA in mechanical engineering and has job offers from several companies, including General Motors, has a strong mental grasp of the game.
"The biggest thing Arther brings is his work ethic, but he has much more than physical ability," McNeill said. "His mental approach and the speed at which he can learn a system are impressive."
Love's stock suffered because he played for a low-profile school that had a run-oriented offense. In his first two years, Love had seven catches for 111 yards and one touchdown. After McNeill came in 1999, Love's numbers (27-451-3) improved drastically.
"Arther can catch the football," McNeill said. "Until I came, this was running back heaven. He has been great in learning, but he hasn't had the opportunity to catch the ball. With some work, he'll be an outstanding tight end."
Because the Bulldogs ran the ball early in his career, Love also is well-schooled as a blocking tight end, and his aggressiveness never had to be questioned.
Love is the second McNeill protégé making the jump to the NFL. The first was Shannon Sharpe, whom McNeill coached at Savannah State.
"There isn't much difference between Arther and Shannon as far as attitude on the field, though Arther is more mild-mannered," McNeill said. "Arther plays within his game. What will help is that Arther is a true tight end, while Shannon was a wide receiver in college."
Love has the speed to run away from defenders. His 40 time at the combine (4.92) was average, but a quad injury slowed him.
"Once he hits a seam, he's gone," McNeill said. "He can also read and adjust well to coverages. Eventually Arther can be the kind of target for Drew Bledsoe that Ben Coates was."
Strengths — Runs well and gives good effort when blocking; excellent running with ball after a catch.
Weaknesses — Needs more strength and technique work, but he has the package
Personal — Arther's brother, Travis, is a starting defensive lineman for South Carolina State
Comparable NFL player — Jason Dunn, Kansas City Chiefs — Athletic; moves well; will take time to develop
What They're Saying...
"Brings good leadership and effort, a team-oriented guy. Has NFL talent, but is not as big and powerful as teams like a line-of-scrimmage tight end to be or as sure-handed and fast as teams like in an H-back to be."
-Joel Buchsbaum, author of Pro Football Weekly's 2001 Draft Preview