Former Liberty of Bakersfield quarterback has turned his one FBS offer into a likely first round selection in Thursday’s NFL Draft. He’s probably the most intriguing player coming into the draft with some mocks tagging him in the top 10 and at least one we saw that didn’t have him in the first round. Go inside to see what Jordan had to say to former Bakersfield Californian prep editor Trevor Horn (who was representing Cal-Hi Sports for a special report) on Monday just after he got finished appearing on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
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By Trevor Horn
(Special to CalHiSports.com)
There was just one FBS offer for Jordan Love coming out of Liberty High of Bakersfield after his standout season for the Patriots in 2015.
Love took the opportunity at Utah State as a 6-foot-2, 175-pound 17-year-old and flourished, throwing for more than 50 career touchdowns for the Aggies and was named second-team All-Mountain West Conference as a sophomore in 2018.
Now, 50 pounds of muscle heavier, Love is projected to be the first player from California selected on Thursday night in the virtual NFL Draft after leaving college after his junior year.
“This is super exciting. It will be a life changing day,” Love said during a phone conversation on Monday from his mother’s house in northwest Bakersfield. “This is a dream come true.”
There are a couple of NFL mock drafts that show a different California player could be taken higher than Love. That would be cornerback Jaylon Johnson, who like Love is from a CIF Central Section school (Central of Fresno) and who like Love went to college in Utah (in his case at the University of Utah). It doesn’t appear that anyone else who went to high school in the state will be selected in the first round.
Going from an unknown to a possible top 10 pick in the NFL draft in a matter of four years is a reality once seemed unattainable to Love.
“It’s a lot,” he said. “Looking back four years ago, I didn’t see myself in this position. But I can look back with confidence that I worked hard to get here. People doubted me. But now my life is going to change for the better.”
And all while dealing with the most unheard of leading up to the draft in modern history. Usually players would make constant trips to team facilities or hosting Pro Day workouts. But Love said that despite having to do all of the communication remotely, it’s been a smooth process.
“With everything going on, it’s been a lot different,” Love said. “I didn’t get to participate in visits and pro days. Now, it’s all ZOOM and FaceTime calls. Just how we are going with it.”
Like the rest of the players eager to hear their names called, Love will be in the comforts of home as ESPN has sent two iPhones and a tripod with instructions on how to set up the remote live view from his family’s home. The network just did the same thing on Sunday night at the home of former Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Sabrina Ionescu from Miramonte of Orinda when when she went No. 1 in the first round of the WNBA Draft.
When Love’s name will be called has been the subject of much speculation among NFL insiders. Most of them have him going as the fourth QB of the night behind expected No. 1 pick Joe Burrow (by the Cincinnati Bengals) and then either Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert. If a team like the Miami Dolphins or Los Angeles Chargers were to take Jordan higher than those other two, he’d be in the top 10. Other possibilities include the New England Patriots choosing at No. 23, the New Orleans Saints at No. 24 and the Green Bay Packers at No. 30. Trades in which Love could be picked by one team and then immediately shipped to another could also take place.
“We are going to be at the house,” he said of his Thursday night plans. “We are allowed to have a small gathering. It won’t be the big Vergas event draft night. But it will be a fun night.
“They want us to have six or less people. Keep it as small as possible. It’s pretty crazy.”
Love is always fully aware of the exclusive company he will become a part of when he is drafted. He is set to be the fourth quarterback from Bakersfield to be drafted since 2002. David Carr (Stockdale) was taken No. 1 overall in 2002 by Houston. His younger brother, Derek (Bakersfield Christian), was drafted in the second round by Oakland in 2014 and Cody Kessler (Centennial) was a third round pick by Cleveland in 2016.
“That’s big-time for me,” Love said. “Growing up playing quarterback, I watched those guys. The NFL quarterbacks from Bakersfield are great dudes and great players. It’s awesome to be part of that group.”
If either Love or Jaylon Johnson falls out of the first round, it would then likely become the first NFL Draft since 1966 in which no former California high school players were selected in that round.
It was a great year for the state in 2018 with six first-round picks, including QB Josh Allen of Firebaugh, who like Love played in the CIF Central Section but in his case got zero D1 college offers. Allen famously went to Reedley College, then to the University of Wyoming.
Last year’s lone first-rounder from the state was offensive lineman Jonah Williams from the University of Alabama, who played at Folsom. Williams was taken 11th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals, but didn’t play as a rookie last season due to a knee injury.
Trevor Horn was the lead preps reporter at The Bakersfield Californian for five years before being hired as the sports information director at Garces Memorial High School in Bakersfield last summer. He continues to comment about high school sports through Twitter. Follow him @trevhorn. Trevor did not receive payment for this article, but we will instead make a donation this week to the Community Action Partnership of Kern, which operates local food banks at capk.org.