Big Man on Campus

Kwame Harris made a splash when he arrived at Stanford in the fall of 2000 as a hulking 6'7" offensive tackle, but he could find himself looking up at a freshman fellow tackle next fall. Recruit David Long from Jackson, Mississippi literally stands above all other recruiting targets in this Stanford class, and he recently took a trip to The Farm.

David Long is not a name familiar to you because he has slid under the radar of the nation's leading recruiting services, and certainly stayed out of the recruiting-heavy discussions across the Internet.  But he is a name you will lock into your brain from now until signing day because of a few simple facts:

  • He is a 6'10" offensive tackle
  • He weighs 305 pounds
  • He has been offered by Stanford (conditional upon his admissions acceptance)

That should be enough to grab your attention.  Now, for his story...

Long has been well known in Madison County in Mississippi for some time now, heralded as early as his sophomore year as an unusually sized athlete.  He started his high school football playing days at Jackson Prep, but was not going to receive the competition or attention playing in a private league in Mississippi, which greatly lags behind the competitiveness of public leagues.  Now at Madison Central, a prominent program, and now having made the switch from defense to offense, Long is catching on with college coaches.  To date he has picked up offers from Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Stanford, with strong interest building from Southern Mississippi, Georgia and Memphis.

And while, yes, Long is a basketball player, football is where his talents lie and correspondingly where he has received scholarship offers.  Though a big man of that size might sound like a hoops prospect, Long says that he does not have much basketball recruiting attention and no offers for just that sport.  At this time, he gives no indication that he is a two-sport athlete aspiring to play on both the gridiron and hardwood.  No, this is just a huge football player.  "Football has become my number one sport," he proclaims, "though I still enjoy basketball."

The next question is how someone that gargantuan can play a game like football, where emphasis in the trenches continues to be playing at a low pad level.  On the offensive line in particular, you want to keep your body low to maintain balance and reduce the leverage of an attacking defensive lineman.  The good news with Long is that he possesses very long arms which can uniquely advantage him against oncoming attackers, and his reputation is such that he does play low to the ground.  In film of Madison Central games, he does not stick out above his fellow linemen, instead with his knees bent at the line and his back level with the OL.

Long discusses the strengths and challenges that his size brings to his position: "For my size I get off the snap quickly.  I have pretty quick feet, which comes from playing basketball all my life.  Sometimes I can play too high, but that is correctable and something I am working on.  I am also probably a little behind on strength training for the development of my body because of my growth spurt the last several years."

For someone so new to playing on the offensive line, Long has obviously displayed serious potential to rate an offer from in-state Ole Miss.  The offer from the local school is an enticing one to Long, who has had his eye on the Rebels for a long time.  "Mississippi is closer to home, a good program, and I've been an Ole Miss fan for all my life," he says, "and I have a lot of friends there.  Stanford is an amazing program as well, and their academics just blow Ole Miss out of the water.  I'm a good student, so that appeals to me."

David Long is indeed an academically minded young man, involved in student government throughout high school, as well as the Mississippi Youth Legislature.  He takes a full complement of AP courses as well as being involved in the math club and key club.  "I try to not confine myself to being just an athlete," he says of his well-rounded activity schedule, which also includes basketball and track & field (discuss, shotput).  Long hopes to study medicine in college, but also is interested in carrying on his love of the Spanish language - either as a minor or in some integrated major.  Madison Central gives numerical rather than letter grades and thus does not carry a grade point average, so to speak.  But his numerical average is currently a 95%, and he has recorded strong standardized test scores with a 1380 SAT and 31 ACT.  Those bode well for the Stanford admissions application process, which he hopes to get wrapped up by submitting his completed application by the end of this month.

Finding prospects in Mississippi is not a common occurrence for Stanford, and there is a small element of serendipity in this recruitment.  According to Long, his coach at Madison Central was once upon a time a graduate assistant with Stanford offensive line coach Steve Morton back at Iowa.  Even just a year ago, Stanford was not on the young man's mind, but with Morton on The Farm, the wheels were set in motion.  Long says that phone calls the last few weeks and months had hinted at strong interest from Stanford, which in turn piqued his own interest in the school.  That interest built to the point that Long and his parents decided to take an unofficial trip out to Stanford last weekend for the USC game.

"I was thoroughly impressed," he reflects.  "It was my first time to the Bay Area, and it's a nice place.  The way the athletes are treated as an integral part of the campus society is surprising and appealing for a bigtime NCAA program like Stanford.  It was a good trip, and I got my feet wet."

The Longs flew out Saturday morning, met with Morton and associate recruiting coordinator Matt Doyle before the game, and then took a tour of the Cardinal athletic facilities.  They talked again with the coaches after the game, though the discussions reached a greater depth on Sunday when they sat down with head coach Buddy Teevens.  That was when Teevens offered the 6'10" prospect.  The Longs also toured the campus on Sunday, and then met with academic advisors on Monday morning.

David Long says that Stanford and Ole Miss are his two leaders right now, and he will still take official trips to both places.  No date is set for any official visit, though he hopes to come to Stanford in mid-January when his basketball schedule permits.  Deciding between the two very different college options will be tough for him, he says, though "proximity to home is not a huge factor."

He cites a great opportunity to play early on the line at Stanford as an attractive selling point, with the hope that he could start within the first two or three years.  Though he also admits that Ole Miss could present a similarly attractive opportunity.  One hook for the Cardinal is Coach Morton, who Long speaks quite fondly of.  The Madison man like his 26-year coaching experience and track record, as well as the man himself.  "He seems like he gets things done," Long says of Morton.  "He's a really good guy."

Long and Madison Central unfortunately have seen the end come to the football season, with a disappointing 5-6 finish in a very tough league.  2002 marks the first time Madison Central has registered a losing season in school history, but there is no time to lament the losses as the hoops season just tipped off for the Jaguars Saturday.  Long hopes to sort out a tough Stanford/Ole Miss decision during his basketball season and says he will take as long as he needs.

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