Doug Marrone had never offered a sophomore quarterback until February. Now he’s done in twice in just ten weeks. In February it was Ohio signal-caller DeShone Kizer, today it’s Pennsylvania’s A.J. Long.
The super soph of Bangor, PA received his second college offer from the Orange, the first coming from UCLA. Long sent a text message to ESPN.com to confirm the offer. Long finished up his second season at Pius X High School with some astounding numbers through the air: 3,700 yards and 46 touchdown passes.
But that’s just the beginning. He can sling it down the sideline or get it done on the ground. Long rushed for 931 yards and reached the end zone 17 times. If you’re counting he accounted for an eye-popping 63 touchdowns last season. While Kizer stands at 6’5″ 205 lbs., Long is about 6’0″ 170 lbs. Then again, only heading into his junior year there is plenty of growth left for him.
The sales job for both sophomore recruits is simple for SU: opportunity. In two years both will presumably have a chance to compete immediately to be the starter. Ryan Nassib, Charley Loeb, and John Kinder will have all graduated by ’14. That leaves Terrel Hunt and “The Syracuse Slash” Ashton Broyld competing for the position. While Broyld has definitely brought excitement to campus, neither one is a long-term lock at starter.
Broyld undoubtedly brings a gifted versatility, but maybe his position is at wideout or Wildcat quarterback. Hunt’s maturity came into question because of his arrest this past January. The bottom line is Syracuse has no certainties at the position.
With Broyld, Hunt, Kizer and Long we see a bit of a pattern. Marrone is looking for QBs who can widen the playbook, and make things happen athletically. One of Marrone’s biggest goals for spring practice was finding more impact plays on the offensive end. All four quarterbacks provide this potential.
Syracuse is once again banking on the equity built up by being one of the first to offer a top prospect. UCLA is already in on Long, and one would imagine other top offers will follow in his final two seasons at Pius X. The Orange have to hope being among the earliest tops being among the best.
Long also has played in big games already in his young career, as Pius X is a powerhouse and has made repeated state title runs. Get ready for a new era of SU football where offering players as young as sophomores becomes the norm, and that starts at the much-needed quarterback spot.
Posted: Brendan Glasheen