Howie Long was a second-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in the 1981 NFL Draft and the 48th player selected overall. He played in the NFL for 13 seasons, recording 84 career sacks and seven Pro Bowl appearances. A two-time defensive player of the year selection, Long led Oakland to a Super Bowl title and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2000. Obviously, Chris Long has learned a lot from his father as he is starting to make a name for himself at defensive end.
Long arrived at UVA after a heralded prep career starring for St. Anne's-Belfield School in Ivy, Virginia. A three-time first-team All-State selection on both offense and defense, Long was named the 2003 Gatorade Player of the Year in Virginia, rated as the second-best player in Virginia by the Charlottesville Daily Progress "Gold List," No. 3 by the Roanoke Times and No. 4 by SuperPrep. He finished the 2003 season with 91 tackles, 23 tackles for a loss and 15 sacks on defense while adding 72 pancake blocks on defense.
A heralded freshman, Long received minimal playing time in 2004, recording five tackles, two tackles for a loss, and a quarterback sack.
He really burst on the scene in 2005, as he played in all 12 games for the Cavaliers. Starting every game and facing All-American D'Brickashaw Ferguson during training camp and practice, Long kept getting better and better. He finished the season with 46 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, and two quarterback sacks. The 6-foot-4, 290-pounder also added an astounding 26 quarterback hurries and seven pass breakups.
Because of that productivity, Long entered this year with high expecations, as he was the lone returning starter from last year's defensive line and tabbed a preseason first-team All-American by Street & Smith's. He hasn't disappointed.
Through eight games, he has tallied 40 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, four quarterback pressures and a forced fumble. He is being double-teamed on every play, and this has opened up opportunities for the other defensive linemen, most notably Jeffrey Fitzgerald.
A redshirt freshman from Richmond, Fitzgerald has totaled 44 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, six quarterback pressures, two pass breakups, two fumble recoveries, an interception and a forced fumble.
Fitzgerald is going to start receiving more attention because of his productivity, and that will open up even more chances for Long. With a motor that never stops running and the size, intensity, and athleticism coaches look for in a defensive lineman, Long has the total package.
"That daggone Long guy, Howard's son," said NC State head coach Chuck Amato when asked what stands out about UVA's defense. "I wish he had twins and sent one our way. Boy is his good. He puts on a clinic everytime he plays. Every snap is a clinic. He plays the game like it's suppose to be played."