"I'm excited about it," he said. "I'm glad I made this decision, it's something new, a change. I know this is going to work out well for me."
His commitment gives NU its second running back of 2013, along with Xavier Menifield, who committed last week. The 5-11, 195-pound Long drew interest from Fresno State, Colorado, Stanford, UCLA and Oregon, before ultimately choosing the Wildcats. Last season, he rushed for 1,134 yards and 19 touchdowns and led his team to a 10-1 record.
His main points of attraction to NU were the academics and the coaches, who he said treated him with the utmost respect and integrity. Long appreaciated McCall's frankness in describing his role with the offense and the team. McCall spoke candidly about NU's lack of depth at running back, a topic of conversation that intrigued the ambitious Long.
"He was real straight with me in our conversations, coach McCall," recalled Long. "The other coaches I talked to weren't as up front about it. It was nice to hear."
After receiving the offer, Long's interest in the school continued to increase over conversations with Fitzgerald and McCall. Yet he wasn't completely sold on the Wildcats until his April visit, a voyage that served as confirmation of NU's reputation as an honorable institution with an appealing campus and first-class facilities.
"When I went there, I was really impressed with everything about it," he said. "It's a great place, there's nothing bad I can say about the campus. It lived up to the reputation."
Though he waited more than a month to make his commit, Long was set on NU the moment he left campus. After talking it over with his parents, he made it official with Fitzgerald Friday night.
Now, Long has his eyes set on next summer, his point of entry into Wildcats football. He hesitated to make any guarantees, but said he believes NU can win a Big Ten championship during his time at the school.
"I definitely think we can win the Big Ten," he said. "If the rest of the team, the recruiting class, wants it as bad as I do, we're going to win it."