Clear Path

Wide receiver Deon Long is a confident player who knows what he wants to do in college, both on the football field and off. He took the first steps toward making his dreams a reality by committing to West Virginia during the Mountaineers' spring game last weekend.

Long, who speaks with determination and resolve, found much to his liking when he made his first visit to the WVU campus on April 19. Those factors, along to the relationship he has built with Mountaineer assistant coach Chris Beatty, led him to make a verbal commitment, along with Ohioans Chris Snook and Branko Busick, on what turned out to be a big day for the West Virginia program.

"The atmosphere and the fans there were huge," Long said. "The game was sort of like a real game. It was just packed with fans and other recruits. When I got there, fans were hollering my name, and asking me if I was going to commit. I didn't expect that at all.

"I got to watch all of the game, and it was really good. I see myself there over the next four years, and I think I'll have the chance to play early. They have a lot of juniors and seniors that will be leaving by the time I get there, so I should be able to get in and make my mark."

West Virginia's big turnout for the spring game (officially announced as 18,000, although there were at least 21,000 in attendance) certainly had an effect on Long, who was wowed by the game-like conditions and the way the fans were into the action.

The chance to compete for early playing time was another factor in Long's decision, but so too were the commitments of Tahj Boyd and Logan Heastie. That pair, who might constitute the best-ever start to a WVU recruiting class, has been working other players to commit to West Virginia. Long already had a prior relationship with Boyd, which also played into his choice.

"I played at a national seven-on-seven tournament where Tahj was on another team, and I got to know him," Long related. "I really hit it off with him, and with Logan too. They're another of the reasons I committed."

Once Long had taken in all of the action at WVU's spring-ending game, it didn't take long for him to let it be known that he wanted in.

"I spoke to the coaches about 20 minutes after the game," he related. "I talked to Bill Stewart and to Coach Beatty. They were as excited as I was when I told them I wanted to commit."

Beatty, who was Long's recruiting coach, forged a solid relationship with the young wideout during the recruiting process. He helped keep Long on track to West Virginia – literally, as it turned out.

"Coming over here, we got lost a couple of times, and every time I called he got us on the right track," Long said. "He is a great recruiter, and he showed me that when he came out of his area (Tidewater Virginia) to recruit me."

Long wouldn't appear to need a great deal of guidance, either on or off the field. The D.C. All-Metro star had 70 catches for 1,186 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior, and is primed for an equally good senior season. He also has his eye on a career as a veterinarian, which he has been interested in since his younger days.

"I was always trying to fix up birds and other injured animals when I was little," Long said. "I've always had a love of animals. I have two dogs now, and it's just something I have always been interested in."

Long appears to be a perfect complement to Heastie in WVU's recruiting class. He is big enough to play outside receiver, but could also move into a slot position if necessary. After playing outside for Dunbar as a junior, he will move inside this year in an effort to create mismatches against opposing defenders. Dunbar is primed to defend its D.C. championship, with a loaded roster of returnees, and Long is eager to achieve that goal before looking forward to his college career.


Long plans to attend Showcase and Nike camps during the summer, and also will attend West Virginia's one-day camp for rising senior prospects. He hopes to bring friend and teammate Sam Stockes, a running back and wide receiver at Dunbar, for that camp as well.

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Long, who rates route running and blocking among his strengths, also has very good hands. He catches the ball well in traffic, and should be able to further refine those abilities while playing in the slot as a senior.

"That will get me up to par playing that position for when I come to West Virginia," he said. "I see myself as an outside receiver, but I can play anywhere the coaches want me to."

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