Long Returns from UNC

In attempt to see all of the schools that have extended him a scholarship offer, Austin Long unofficially visited North Carolina over the weekend.

"It definitely got my attention," Long said. "I've never been down there. I got to drive through the campus and everything. It was absolutely amazing – all the buildings and everything.

"Just how it was all set up was pretty sweet. I like how all the athletic stuff is all in one building. And then you walk out and you're right on the practice field and you walk out another door and you're on the game field.

"The coaches were awesome – we met with them for awhile. I got to continue to build a relationship with the offensive line coach and Butch Davis and my recruiter, Coach [Charlie] Williams."

Long, 6-foot-6, 270-pound offensive tackle from Memphis (Tenn.) Briarcrest Christian, has also already unofficially visited Alabama, Duke, Georgia, and Tennessee. The five visited schools, as well as Florida, Florida State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, and Southern Miss, have offered scholarships.

"I don't think I'm going to rank [my visits] until I get around to see everywhere," Long said. "[UNC] was definitely a good visit, but I'm going to Auburn, Florida State and Florida next week. I think that's probably going to be one of my last [groups of] trips for a little while – probably until the summer."

Shortly following next week's trio of visits, Long expects to announce a favorites list consisting of five to seven schools.

"Definitely, [on each visit] I'm making sure it's right for me and that I like the campus, [and] the coaches," Long said. "A big thing is having a good relationship with the offensive line coach – it's more important than anything [because] he'll be my [guy] for four or five years."

Long's verbal commitment plans aren't nearly as definite. He says a pledge could occur as early as this summer or might not take place until after his senior football season.

"All I know before I commit, I'm definitely going to visit [my favored school] a couple more times, make sure everything is right, pray about it, and make sure it's alright with my family," Long said.

With his family by his side, Long arrived in Chapel Hill Friday morning and immediately met with UNC's coaching staff. It was then that Long was introduced to Sam Pittman, UNC's offensive line coach.

"He said he is recruiting me as a tackle," Long said. "He said some guys play tackle in high school, but they aren't big enough or – like one of the guys he recruited when he got there – they really can't handle all the space outside. He thinks no matter what I'll be a tackle.

"We talked about the offense and I got to sit in on his meeting. That gave me a chance to listen to how he explains everything."

Long then toured the campus including an in-depth look at the athletic buildings.

"I didn't know they had such a big background for football," Long said. "Usually, you only hear about the basketball side of it. They have a museum for basketball – we got to go through that. And they also have a bunch of stuff down by their weight room of all the football stuff."

The day's activities concluded with UNC's spring practice.

"It was very upbeat – not everybody was getting screamed and yelled out," Long said. "It was very up-tempo. I just got a good vibe – everybody was really excited, coaches were excited. It was good."

After unofficially visiting Duke Saturday morning, Long returned to UNC.

"They were supposed to scrimmage, but when we got there it was rained out," Long said. "We just ended up talking to the coaches for about 15 minutes and then got on the road."

On the nearly 12-hour drive home, Long and his family reflected back on his stay.

"I really liked it," Long said. "I didn't think, at first, it would impress me other than the campus being really nice. I like what they're doing over there. I think in the next couple of years they're going to be top-25 program. Seeing that and meeting all the coaches and everything, I really liked it."

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