Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 17, 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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50 SEPT. 17, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IRISH IN THE PROS BY TODD D. BURLAGE A nytime an NFL player is described as unable to settle into a specific posi- tion, it usually means he's not going to be an NFL player for very long. But former Fighting Irish cornerback turned all-purpose New York Giants de- fensive back Julian Love wears his jack- of-all-trades distinction from his team- mates and coaches as a badge of honor. And Love's acceptance to dutifully do whatever is asked of him wherever his coaches put him was rewarded be- fore the Giants' season opener when the fourth-round 2019 draft pick was named a defensive team captain. "I'm not going to lie, it means an aw- ful lot to me," said Love, who has be- come one of the most popular players on the team. "I've never been a captain my entire life and to do it for the Giants, of all places, at the highest level, it's hard not to get emotional about it." Part of what makes Love so special is his ability to do it all. In fact, this time last year, Love joked about moving from defensive back to defensive tackle be- cause that's about the only position he hasn't played. "I've got to get a shot at nose tackle soon," Love joked. "The more I can do for this team, they'll keep me around longer. That's my mindset each day, embrace the challenge that's brought to me." At 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, Love is obviously not the biggest defensive back on the Giants roster. And by his own admission, he's not the fastest either. But what Love lacks in natural physi- cal gifts he makes up for with smarts, fearlessness, toughness and versatility. Love has played nickel corner, free and strong safety, and he was even asked to cover certain opponents' best receiv- ers last season while playing boundary corner. He began the 2022 season as the Gi- ants' starting strong safety, a position typically reserved for a bigger player. "I'm just happy to be back there at safety, holding it down," Love said. "And then I get to move up and do some fun stuff on third down." First-year Giants defensive coordi- nator Wink Martindale explained how a versatile player such as Love makes game planning much easier. "Those guys you can move around are fun to coach because the No. 1 thing is how smart [Love] is," Martindale said. "He understands little things, and it's a valuable piece to have when you're put- ting a defense together in this league." Former Giants head coach Joe Judge, who was fired in January after two sea- sons, raved about Love's versatility by giving him the nickname "Duct Tape." "He can play gunner, he can play punt protector, he'll do stuff on kickoff cov- erage, on punt return, on kickoff return. He can play a multitude of positions," Judge explained at the end of last sea- son. "He comes in every week and it's like, 'Hey Jules, your role just changed completely from last week.' He doesn't ever bat an eye." Love concurred. "Just do it all, I take pride in that," Love said in response. "You're trying to get better, trying to establish how you want to be as a player, and that involves doing a lot. I like it. I like doing a lot." Love recorded 66 tackles and defended 7 passes, including 1 interception, while starting five of the 17 games he played in last season. PHOTO COURTESY NEW YORK GIANTS Julian Love Earning His Captain Stripes With The Giants

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