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Leadership through chemistry

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Leadership through chemistry

DeMarcus Love has been leading his football teams in organized chants and cheers since middle school. Now he has taken on a new ritual. the task of leading the Hogs as a valuable member of the newly renovated offensive line.

Love, along with teammates Adrian Davis, Wendel Davis, Ryan Mallett, Malcolm Sheppard and Michael Smith, was named a captain of the 2009 squad prior to the start of the school year. As an upperclassman on a relatively young offensive line, he will play a crucial role in anchoring the success of the position group and overseeing the development of Arkansas’ younger players.

“It feels good that my teammates thought of me as a leader to vote me as a captain,” Love said. “I just feel like I have the lead and I try my best not to let them down.”

Love has embraced the duties that go a long with being an upperclassman and a team captain and has helped promote a better sense of team chemistry and unity. The goals for the offensive line are fairly simple: get better every day and protect the quarterback.

”Our chemistry is a lot better than last season,” Love said. “We have put an emphasis on pass protection. Protecting (Ryan) Mallett and making sure he can throw the ball without getting hit. Making sure he can play games without worrying about the protection and letting him make his throws is our goal.”

In addition to his duties on the field, Love has also taken a role in the pre-game festivities, leading his teammates in a chant to get fired up.

“Some of my teammates and I thought we needed something to get everybody fired up for practice and games,” Love said. “We first did it when we were shooting the intro video for the video board during games and it just went on from there.”

Chanting and cheering to get psyched up for a game is a common aspect of pre-game festivities for most players at all ages, Love included. His days of leading chants started during his youth football days in Dallas, Texas.

“I started it with my little league football team, the Red Raiders, in Dallas, Texas. We used to do the chant and I’ve just added on to it. I say “how do you feel?” and everybody says “fired up.” I just added stuff to it to make it relate to Arkansas. It is a work in progress.”

From peewee football to playing at famed Carter High School in Dallas, Love became a versatile threat, he played offensive tackle as a sophomore before being moved to offensive guard for his junior and senior seasons. As a senior, he helped his team to an 11-1 record and a second-round state playoff berth in the state’s largest classification (5A).

Upon graduation, Love found himself with opportunities to play at Kansas, Arizona, UTEP and Kansas State but Arkansas was his choice; for the tradition, the success and the camaraderie. It’s the team chemistry that Love used in helping make his collegiate choice that is pushing him on and off the field.

”Chemistry is going to help us as a team; letting us know that we have each other’s backs,” Love said. “We know what each other are going to do and that whatever the situation is, we can complete the task given to us.”

A two-year member of Arkansas’ offensive line, Love’s contributions speak for themselves. In 2008, he helped Michael Smith become the ninth 1,000-yard rusher in school history, finish the year second in the SEC and No. 22 in the nation with 207 carries for 1,072 yards and eight touchdowns. He also helped protect Casey Dick, who completed 205 passes, and threw for 2,586 yards and 13 touchdowns. The completion total is a school record, the yardage total ranks second and the TDs tie for eighth. Arkansas’ 3,115 yards passing in 2008 is a school record and the 4,477 yards of total offense ranks ninth.

Love’s goal is to do anything and everything he can, on and off the field, to anchor a successful offensive line, be a productive member of the team and foster a team chemistry that could ultimately lead to success.

”It feels good that everybody has taken a hold of the chanting and the cheering but we have to come up with some new stuff,” Love said. “We need to switch it up during the season and make sure we are not saying the same thing.”

Love is a leader on the field, a leader with his voice and is happy to return to his home city and state still participating in the same roles he had when he left.



Sports Category : Football