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Bryce Love Wants To Do It All For Washington's Offense

Elijah Walter Griffin Sr./Washington Football Team
Elijah Walter Griffin Sr./Washington Football Team

Bryce Love doesn't consider himself "a numbers kind of guy." Sure, he wants to set records and score touchdowns like everyone else, but he's more focused on being the best version of himself and contributing to the team's success.

In terms of getting back to his best, he's already well on the way towards accomplishing that goal. After his rookie season and the offseason recovering from a torn ACL he suffered at Stanford, Love is on a football field for the first time in nearly two years and is in the rotation at running back.

As for contributing to the team's success, it's yet to be seen if he'll be a regularly featured player on game days. But at least from a skillset perspective, Love believes he has a place in offensive coordinator Scott Turner's multi-faceted system.

"Just being able to be versatile," Love told reporters Aug.20. "That was one of the things I really focused on. Being able to run routes, catch out the backfield, just gaining confidence and doing all of those things is what I wanted to focus on. I accept the opportunity and I'm excited to see where it goes."

Love, who Washington drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, was a dynamic runner at Stanford. He rushed for 3,865 yards in four years while averaging 6.8 yards per carry and scored 30 touchdowns. He finished his career in the top 10 of several categories in school history, including 100-yard rushing games (4th) and yards per carry (1st).

Running backs are asked to do more in Turner's version of the Air Coryell system, though; he sees the position as a piece that can be used in the pass game as well. Love was an effective pass-catcher at Stanford with 465 receiving yards, but he was not heavily featured in that area.

Fortunately for Love, his former Stanford teammate Christian McCaffrey has experience working with Turner, and he had immense success playing in the offensive system with the Carolina Panthers. In three seasons with the Panthers, McCaffrey has averaged 113.4 yards from scrimmage and 5.9 yards per touch.

"I've talked to Christian about the system," Love said. "I've watched film on him pretty much every day and I've seen him play every game that he was playing in. The things he can do are special. I'm excited to...follow up behind his act and hopefully perform at a high level."

Love said McCaffrey is a unique player, but running backs coach Randy Jordan said the two Stanford alumni share some traits. Jordan said Love is flexible because he can line up as a receiver and make catches out of the backfield. And when it comes to running the ball, Jordan called Love a "tweener."

"He can run between the tackles and he can attack the edges with his speed," Jordan said in July. "For him, it is just having confidence, making that cut and getting hit. … All the practices that we have lined up, we will get a clean evaluation of him."

Nearly one month later, it appears Love is making an impression on the coaches. Head coach Ron Rivera said he appreciates the work Love has put in towards making a full recovery, and he said it has been "remarkable" to watch him since Rivera was hired in January. Based on what he has seen, Rivera seems confident Love can add his skills to the offense.

"He's a guy that's multi-dimensional," Rivera said. "At Stanford, he didn't have to do a lot of routes and pass catching, but he's very capable and we're getting to see that. This is a guy that could be an every-down back for you. He's an explosive, dynamic player. Good quickness. He's exciting with the ball in his hands, so we'll see how he continues to progress and get better."

Rivera knows Love is versatile. He has seen Love have success running outside and between the tackles. Although Love has yet to make his professional debut, Rivera believes the experience he gained at Stanford will help him in Turner's offense.

"He's a guy who is going to continue to grow, and if he does and shows us what he's capable of, he'll have an opportunity."

That's why Love said he is "blessed" to have played in the offensive system at Stanford. The terminology is different, but the concepts are similar to the pro-style scheme he was in under Cardinal offensive coordinators Mike Bloomgren and Tavita Pritchard. That experience has made him feel comfortable playing under Turner.

"I feel good about it," he said. "Knowing where Christian came from and the things he was doing and taking that and applying it to my game and being able to [in] my senior year, being able to come out the backfield and catch more passes and things like that. 

"I feel like I've done a good job so far of going out, showcasing the different things out of the backfield. There's always room for improvement. I always want to get better at it. I'm happy with where I am. I'm excited to fit into it and find a role within the offense."

It's been a long journey towards recovery for Love. Now, he is weeks away from finally appearing in his first-career game with a chance to be a featured piece on offense, and he can't wait to be out there again.

"Being patient, learning through reps and things like that, that's been a big part for me," Love said. "I'm happy to be where I am."

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