Saturday night is Towson's homecoming football game. For Tigers junior safety Jordan Love, the entire season is a homecoming.
He's playing near the city he grew up in, the city he feels closest to, the city he calls home. For the transfer from the University of Georgia, the return has been a long time in the making.
Love, whose Tigers (1-1) will play Saint Francis (Pa.) (2-1) at 7 p.m., spent much of his childhood, from 2002 to 2009, in Baltimore. He attended Gilman, but during his senior year his family moved to Virginia.
"The reason I really had to move is my mother got a new job down in Richmond, so I was up here for a little bit, but then it was too much money between two houses, so I just moved down there with her," he said.
From there, he enrolled at Georgia, a program that seemed to be the perfect match for him.
"I had a real good connection with the coaches. They came to my house; my mother really liked them," he said. "I never really had a father figure, and that was one of the things I was looking at, just a coach that could mentor me and kind of mold me into a man, and I felt like at University of Georgia with [assistant coaches Willie Martinez and Tony Ball and head coach Mark Richt], I felt like they could do that."
But coaching changes led to diminished playing time.
"I wanted to go somewhere where I could contribute, because you know I felt like I didn't want to sit on the bench. I felt like I could contribute somewhere," Love said.
That place would be Towson, where a familiar face had been waiting all along. Back when Love was at Gilman, Tigers football coach Rob Ambrose was the offensive coordinator at Connecticut. That's where their relationship, which Ambrose calls "kind of like family," began.
"I started recruiting him when he was a junior in high school," Ambrose said. "He went off to Georgia a couple years, then I came back down here. At that level, when things go awry, at the [Football Bowl Subdivision] level, and guys want to transfer down, it's the pre-existing relationships in the recruiting process that end up being the ties."
Those ties proved strong enough to bring Love to Towson, a Football Championship Subdivision school.
"Maryland's the place I've lived the most in my life, so I kind of consider it home, but mostly all my friends from middle school and then from high school are all here, so it was basically a homecoming when I came back to Towson," he said.
Here, Love believes he can make a difference on the team, not just as a player, but also as a teammate. In addition to having a larger role on the team, he said, he thinks "people feed off [his] energy."
And his new coach has definitely noticed his contributions.
"He adds quality depth and experience in a position that was dominated by younger guys, and I agree with him, he brings a degree of energy to the position that kids do feed off of in a positive way," Ambrose said.
"I'm really excited," he said. "It's going to be my second home game, first homecoming here, so I'm excited. My first night game here, so I'm pretty excited."
twitter.com/EG_ClarkeCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun