Upon decommitting from Stanford last month the four-star corner promptly announced the tug of war between the two tradition-rich programs and mapped out a timeline that ends with a decision later this months. This week’s Army All American Bowl practices and game provide a welcomed respite from recruiting, but comparing the merits of his two finalists is never far from his thoughts.
“I just love the feeling around the program(s)… that surrounds the program(s),” said Long. “Being around the coaches, they’re very honest people. They never really try to sell me anything… sell me any pitches… just people that you want to be around. Especially with the coaches. Those are people you want to be comfortable with because those are the people you’re going to be around the majority of time at the school. And then the school environments for both… I love that. In the academic meetings Michigan had just exactly what I was looking for with the architecture, business, and engineering. Everything was great there. Washington … I’ve been there a few times and everything was great there academically and I love Seattle as a city. And the networking is really good at Michigan, so that is something that is really drawing me in. They have a pretty big fan base in the California area. My counselor, her so goes to Michigan. It’s kind of a small world when you’re a Michigan man. I’ve been talking (to the players) around and there are a lot of guys…even guys out here… there are a lot of guys from Detroit on this team.”
When Long returns home the counsel seeking won’t end. He happens to have at his disposal a number of contacts with Washington ties, and even some beyond his high school counselor with connections to Michigan.
“(The Huskies’) starting guard right now… I think he’s the guard or tackle… he’s from Loyola,” said Long. “Then we have a guy who was there my sophomore year who I’m pretty sure redshirted his freshman year… he was at Loyola. And we have a few guys that previously went there… some alumni. (One is) a guy who’s a lawyer in California, so I have some good feedback on that program. Then as far as Michigan it’s kind of weird… the staff that is there right now, there are a few guys that were on staff at SC with some of my of my high school coaches. So I’m really well versed in that. My head coach, Coach (Marvin) Sanders coached at Nebraska… so he knows a lot of the coaches out there. So I’ve been able to build a relationship with those coaches very quickly through him, and phone calls, and taking visits.”
Strong relationships are vitally important to both schools, but sometimes even the strongest bonds aren’t enough to overcome a disparity in the distance department. While Long has insisted that isn’t an overriding concern, it’s certainly less of one for Michigan because of the family he has in Detroit.
“I have an aunt and two uncles,” he said detailing his kin in the Motor City.
“I think that’s something that matters especially since there aren’t a lot of guys from California out there you need somebody to go to that you’re really close with and come in contact with. I think that matters having someone close.”
Even with that feather in the Maize & Blue’s cap the Huskies seemed to have an advantage in the form of his last official visit the weekend of January 16th. That would seemingly give them the last face to face interaction before he settles on a school a few days later. Long insists, however, that the order of visits has no significance.
“(Washington) just happened to be my last visit,” he said. “I planned to take some other (visits). I was going to take an official to (USC, but) that just didn’t work out with me leaving (on a school trip to Italy January 22nd). So Washington, I locked that one in. I’m going to give them my honesty and go up there and that’s my last visit.”
“So technically Michigan gets the last say because they have an in-home visit before I leave (for Italy). So Washington gets the last official, but that following week Michigan has an in-home visit right before I leave.”
And right before he makes his decision.
So what will it come down to?
“Just me being comfortable. The education will work itself out. I want to go somewhere where it’s good networking and I’m comfortable in the locker room.”