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A.J. Long Helping Recruit Others to Syracuse: Twitter`s Increasing Influence

Calling all recruiting experts, there’s a new way of getting the attention of your most desirable players. It’s a proven method with tangible results. And it might just be the most successful tactic of the 21st century. You don’t even have to speak a word to or travel to see the recruit you’re going after. The Twitter-verse has become the hottest new recruiting medium recently, including Syracuse.

In an age of instant attention with “tagging” and non-stop exposure via hashtags Twitter can make all the difference. One of the biggest SU tweeters is 2014 commit AJ Long, who is doing some terrific recruiting of his own. How is he recruiting 4-star OT Chad Mavety?

@Aj_Long3: “#cusenation go follow and blow up @chadmavety55 page he will be the next Justin Pugh!!!”

In response to all the love, Mavety tweeted:

@chadmavety55: “Soo much love from #OrangeNation its awesome! Cuse fans are wilddd.”

And AJ is not stopping there. He also wants fans to show the love to his cousin 4-star WR KJ Williams and 3-star LB Colton Moskal after SU’s most recent commit Zaire Franklin pledged to the Orange.

@ZiggySmalls_  Congrats broo!!!! Welcome to the family now lets go get @KJWilliams2 and @Colton_Moskal to commit!!!

Understandably these are young impressionable students, and it is eight months until Signing Day. These recruits are also receiving the same twitter rap from every school’s fan base. #CuseNation will have to continue to show the love to prospects like Mavety and Williams for another 35 weeks, but players do love the shout outs. Every high profile athlete enjoys the attention. Some ask for a Twitter shout out before they will grant an interview.

It’s an incredible new tool in the recruiting world. But how much should we look into it? Last year, Zach Allen reached out to tons of other recruits on twitter. He seemed to have the Midas touch: whoever he talked with also wanted to go to SU. But in January, after Doug Marrone left the program, Allen de-committed. It shows just how temperamental and ever changing the recruiting landscape is, with or without twitter.

But it does more good than bad. SU`s George McDonald is on twitter, and it`s valuable. Recruits will stay connected with him after he leaves their living rooms on visits. And, you have to admit, he’s just as motivational as he is in person.

#OrangeNation are you doing everything you can to support the 2014 Cuse FB team? #ONLYUKNOW #ACC2013 #every1counts

#OrangeNation 2014 going to be special group #ballers #leaders #hardnosed #hungry

If only the NCAA still allowed SU to keep that hashtag on the Carrier Dome turf. So, SU fans, keep up the good work on social media. Because these recruits enjoy the recognition. Who knows, your tweet could be the difference maker on whether a prospect choses the orange.

Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald

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Editors Note: The post below is from March, atfter Longs commitment. 

The next big thing for Syracuse football may be 2014 dual-threat quarterback AJ Long (Lebanon, TN), who committed late last week during the basketball team’s rout of Seton Hall in the Big East tournament. The hoops squad has given us a little more optimism, but Long’s commitment is another huge win from the weekend.  

Long has been on Syracuse’s radar since May. He was the second 2014 QB to be offered by Doug Marrone. Long had been highly recruited by former OC Nathanial Hackett as well, and despite all the change to the staff, the communication between Long and the university has been solid.

The Orange gains a 6’1” 190 lb. athlete who can both run the ball effectively and pass the football efficiently. Long visited SU for the third time last Wednesday, and he figured third time’s a charm. He got the chance to really evaluate it as a school choice. Long told The Fizz it just clicked:

“I’ve been up to Syracuse twice previously. Both times I fell in love with it. Loved the people. It just felt like home. Third time now, with the new staff, I just wanted to see what things were like and what it was like. Being up there with the entire staff, Coach Shafer, Coach McDonald, and Coach Lester, it was a great day. They are a great bunch of people.”

The new coaching staff continues to prove its worth early in its young, promising tenure. McDonald has become Syracuse’s recruiting guru, and Lester seems to be adding big value as well. He saved Austin Wilson for the 2013 recruiting class. Lester came up clutch again, with the help of social media:

“It was different because I didn’t know if my offer still stood with the new staff. The week that had happened, Coach Lester hit me up on Facebook, telling me to call him. That day I did and I talked to him and Coach McDonald and Coach Shafer. They all reaffirmed I had the offer from them and they wanted me to get up as soon as possible to meet them and check out the renovations with the ACC move. It was a tough time not knowing, but it was nice to know that’s reaffirmed.” 

What’s very clear here is Shafer will stand by Marrone’s policy of being straight with recruits. Long told The Fizz he appreciated how upfront the staff was with him:

“They’re 100% honest with you the entire time. They’re not going to tell you what you want to hear but what you need to hear. That was the thing that made me want to be there because they have my best interest at heart. That was the reason I committed so early and I felt so strongly that was the right place for me.”

The Orange never lost contact with the Friendship Christian star. Never mind the coaching changes, Long moved from Pius X HS in Bangor, PA to Lebanon, Tennessee due to family reasons. It’s a good thing SU didn’t lose sight of Long. He’s pumped about the chance to play in the ACC, and he’s set the bar awfully high for when he comes in:

“It’s a good conference. You’re going to play good football. You’re going to play good teams. Syracuse will be competitive in the ACC, yes. Will they win it? I don’t think so. But our first year on campus, the recruiting class we are building for the 2014 class, our goal is to win the ACC championship as freshmen.”

Long also told The Fizz he’s already been talking with some of his 2014 colleagues. He’s connected with SU’s first commit of ’14 Naesean Howard, and even mentioned WR Steve Ishmael (from Miami, FL and has an SU offer) is interested in playing up at Syracuse. He’s already anchoring this recruiting class. In terms of his game, Long was sensational for Friendship Christian last season. As a dual threat presence, he posted great numbers on the ground and through the air. He also threw just one interception compared to 37 touchdown passes. Long discussed his one pick in detail wtih The Fizz: 

“I think my knowledge of the game is something that really helps me because play snaps, I know what defenses are in, I know what they’re trying to do, and I know what to take advantage of. I think that made it a whole lot easier and it makes my accuracy a whole lot higher. I don’t make the mental mistakes that some do because people don’t know how to read defenses and they make a lot of dumb throws. That one interception, it came from a good pass. It wasn’t a bad decision, it was just somebody else made a play before the ball could get to the receiver. So if that had not happened, maybe right now we’d be talking about no interceptions.”

His attention to detail shows the football IQ of Long. SU was second to UCLA to offer Long. Other offers include Appalachian State, Arizona, and Buffalo. But top BCS schools like Oregon, Notre Dame, Florida, and USC are just beginning to give the gifted athlete some extra attention. Even with all that, it’s not changing Long’s mind, so he says:

“I’m 100% in on Syracuse. There’s no school that’s going to make me de-commit. There’s no school in the country that can sway me to look at my decision and try to change it. Everyone talks about Syracuse basketball, Syracuse lacrosse. But when you talk to people on campus, everyone is excited about Syracuse football games. It’s the one thing that really goes unnoticed. I don’t want it to be unnoticed by the rest of the country. I want it to be the top thing. I want it to overtake those two. I’m talking about our class, from the kids that I’ve talked to, our freshman/sophomore year, we want to win the ACC championship. But our junior/senior year, we want to take it to the national championship and win it.”

With Syracuse basketball prepping for its first round battle with Montana in the NCAA tournament, and the lax squad streaking into Providence tonight with four consecutive wins, life’s good On the Hill. Long wants Syracuse football to return to the dominance it once possessed. He says McDonald wants him to become a “football junky.”

“He said if he’s the office at 6 o’clock, I should be in the office by 6:15/6:30 sitting with him before his class or before workouts. That was his biggest point. If you turn out to be like a Kellen Moore, like Matt Barkley, you’re a big name, you’re a hot commodity. It helps you because you not only know your scheme, but you learn other team’s tendencies.”

Gotta love it. Long could be the next big thing for Syracuse. The attention he’s grabbing from top schools, to wave them off, and remain devoted to SU is saying a lot. Long-term, the star-studded QB wants to put Syracuse football on the next level:

“It’s not a matter of whether you are noticed right now, but it’s about what you do in college. You get there and it’s a great program, but when you leave you want to make it a better program than when you found it.”

Posted: Brendan Glasheen

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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