ANDY'S ANSWER: Well, I know that there's lots of people that will disagree with me, but everyone saying the words "I love you" every time you turn around doesn't mean much to me. Too many people say "I love you" one minute but don't treat you with respect the rest of the time. My idea is that actions speak louder than words, and how you treat someone all the time will let them know how you feel about them.
If you really HAVE to say something to express how you feel, I would come up with something that lets him know you think he's special without dropping the big L bomb, which almost certainly requires a reciprocal "I love you too", even if he doesn't mean it. (That's where the awkwardness comes in.)
For example, one of my girlfriends let me know that I had potential for being her #1 by telling me that when she saw me she got butterflies in her stomach... what did I think that meant? We joked about me making her sick, and with the joking, there wasn't any tension, but believe me... I got her message loud and clear.
Below is the recording of Andy answering this question.