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North Clayton retires former player's jersey

Photo by Derrick Mahone
North Clayton High retired the jersey of former all-state lineman Kevin Love on Wednessday. Posing for a picture with Love’s retired jersey is Clayton County School Board member Jessie Goree (left), his wife, Constance, and Love.

Photo by Derrick Mahone North Clayton High retired the jersey of former all-state lineman Kevin Love on Wednessday. Posing for a picture with Love’s retired jersey is Clayton County School Board member Jessie Goree (left), his wife, Constance, and Love.

Kyle Love was once asked by his college coach Sylvester Croom why he wasn’t heavily recruited during his high school career.

Love had a simple answer for his former Mississippi State coach: “I was lazy.”

Not “lazy” enough to earn honorable mention all-star honors and get a scholarship to the SEC school.

Love’s assessment of himself might have been a little harsh. But he told that message to the North Clayton students and politicians, school board members and other dignitaries who gathered at the school on Wednesday for his high school jersey retirement ceremonies.

“I had some teachers and coaches that believed in me,” Love said.

Before packed stands in the school’s new auxiliary gym, many shared stories about the current New England Patriot nose tackle, who received several proclamations in honor of “Kyle Love Day.”

“I can’t think of a better person to have his jersey retired,” said former North Clayton principal Clarence Burnough. “Kyle was an overall good kid.”

Love became the eighth former North Clayton athlete to have a jersey retired from the school. He joined former standouts Marcus Hunt, Mareno Philyaw, Morgan Burnett, Cap Burnett, Jerome Harris, LaTia Williams and D.J. Shockley in that number.

“It is quite an honor,” Love said. “It is something you really don’t expect.”

Now, the 6-foot-2, 310-pounder is living out his NFL dream. Love played in this past February’s Super Bowl XLVI.

His road to the NFL wasn’t easy.

The Patriots signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2010 after he completed his eligibility at Mississippi State.

During his rookie season, he finished with seven tackles and a sack while playing in seven games, making one start.

This past season, he played in 16 games with 13 starts. He had 33 tackles and three sacks for the Patriots, who lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

“I took the hardest route to the NFL,” Love said. “It has been like a dream for me.”

He said he is anxious to get started with offseason training next month before heading to training camp in the summer.

“(Kyle’s) a rock,” Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson said in a statement released by the team. “He’s one of those guys that have really come around, and hopefully he can continue that for some years.”