Long Rising to the Top

2014 prospect A.J. Long recently camped at Maryland and hopes hard work leads to an offer.

Summer vacation: a three month period where children nationwide lounge in front of their TV sets for hours, dreaming of one day becoming like the pro athletes they see on the screen. They could go out and toss the ball around, but the thought of getting off the couch is most times just too menacing. This however, is not the case for A.J Long.

Dreams alone aren't enough for the standout quarterback from Pius X (Bangor, PA), who last season threw for over 2,800 yards, and 28 TD to only 6 interceptions. As if that wasn't enough, Long also racked up 355 yards and 4 TD on the ground. Impressed? Here's the best part: Long compiled all of these numbers as a freshman.

“It's all hard work,” said Long's father Asar Long. “Most 14 year old boys are sitting at home playing video games during the summer but not A.J. He's out working hard and learning the playbook so that when it came time to perform his teammates could have trust in him.”

At 6-foot-1 and 178 pounds of pure muscle, Long is quite the athlete. Sporting a 30-inch vertical and a 4.59 40-time (at Maryland), it would be a safe bet to say that he could do some serious damage on the ground. However, looking at his stat sheet, you would assume that A.J. is a premiere drop-back passer who will occasionally take off with the ball. “A.J. is more athletic than the stereotypical drop-back QB but the offense that he's in at Pius doesn't really ask him to run very much,” said his father. “He likes to model his game after Colt McCoy in that he'll take whatever the defense gives him.” A.J. was quick to agree with his father. “I definitely model my game after Colt McCoy because I'd consider myself a dual threat on the field. I can pass inside the pocket, but I can also get outside the pocket and make the play with either my arm or my legs.”

Ever since Long blew up the stat sheet this past season, the rising sophomore phenom has caught the eye of multiple top-tier programs. Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Oregon, Rutgers Southern Methodist, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Texas A&M, Penn State, TCU and Miami are among the many schools interested. He was also recently listed in Max Preps Top 100 Prospects for the class of 2014.

Yet, despite all of the attention he's been getting, Long is anything but complacent. “This summer we've been to Pitt's prospect camp, Maryland's prospect camp, SMU's 7-on-7 tournament, TCU for a visit, Oklahoma University for a Top Prospect Camp and Penn State for Elite 11,” he stated.

On the rare days where Long is at home in Bethlehem, PA, he continues to work on his game. “He has QB drills in the morning and then we usually break down some film. He goes to FAST training 4-5 days a week and he's been working with ex-Maryland QB Tyler Smith (Wilson High, Easton, PA),” said Asar Long. “My summer has basically been traveling for football and then when I'm home I'm working out and watching film,” said A.J. “I just want to be the best quarterback I can be.”

The experience of working with a local star quarterback has proved to be very valuable to the up-and-coming Long, who has already taken a few pointers from the former Terp. “Tyler has taught me a few things,” said A.J. “He's showed me that the depth of my drops need to be deeper and that I always need to keep my eyes downfield among other things.”

In fact it was Smith, who recently transferred to Elon after one year at Maryland that tipped off his now former program about Long. “Maryland hadn't really heard of A.J. until Tyler called them and talked to the new coaching staff about how impressed he was with A.J. I honestly don't think they were sold on him until he came up for the prospect camp in June,” stated Asar Long.

“At camp they had me run through the offense: option pitches, routes, corners, hitches, posts, things like that,” said Long. By lunchtime however, the coaching staff had seen enough. “They had a break for lunch and Coach Crowton (QB Coach) came over to me and told me how much they liked A.J. and that they couldn't believe how young he was. They were asking me things like where else he had visited and what I thought he'd be able to do this upcoming season. They were definitely interested in him,” his father stated.

At the conclusion of the camp, Crowton and his assistant met with the Longs and told A.J. that they are planning on keeping a close eye on him and they want to get him on campus for a game. “Coach Crowton has A.J. calling him once a week to talk. He was one of the innovators of the spread offense and he's said that A.J. is a dual-threat who would be perfect in their offense,” said the older Long. “I was surrounded by a lot of good talent at Maryland but I think I held my own,” said A.J. “I liked the offense they ran there and I'd like to get back there for a game this season.”

With summer drawing to an end, Long is headed back to the hills of Bangor, PA for the 4-day “Camp Royal” Pius X has to kick off their preseason. “I'm just excited to get back on the field after so long,” said A.J. “Playing against yourself gets boring after a while and I'm just looking forward to playing again and doing even better than last year.”

For now however, Maryland and premier programs across the country will be keeping a close eye on this star in the making.

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