It only takes a glance at Deon Long's photos to illustrate the changes that he has undergone since making the move to Hargrave. Gone are the signature dreadlocks, replaced by a military-style short cut more suited to the surroundings.
A conversation with Long shows those changes with even more depth. While still outspoken and exhibiting an upbeat personality, the sense of a more mature person comes across quickly. Long, who is attending Hargrave to achieve a qualifying NCAA test score, is quick to point that out himself.
"It has been tough being at military school," he admitted. I've learned to take school more seriously. It's also helped me to be more responsible."
Once gets the feeling that this wouldn't have been Long's first choice of paths to college. He envisioned himself competing for playing time as a true freshman at West Virginia this fall, not toiling in lightly attended prep games at Hargrave. However, he seems to have learned some lessons from the experience, and is now striving for a strong finish at the Virginia school.
One the field, Long has done well. He recorded five receptions against the University of north Carolina junior varsity squad, and had his best day against Frostburg, snaring five balls for 173 yards and a score. He has two games left, against Marshall's junior varsity on Nov. 5 and Fork Union on Nov. 13, and he is looking to end his Fork Union career with a splash.
Of just as great importance is his progress toward qualifying. He is 30 points short of a qualifying SAT score, and is taking that tese again on Saturday. He is awaiting the results of his most recent ACT test, and is confident that he will achieve the needed score.
"I'm close," he said. "Once I get that, I plan to move on and enroll in January."
"I am still good with West Virginia, and I plan to be there for spring drills," he said. "I talk to the coaches there, especially Coach Beatty, pretty regularly."