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Ready for the Competition: QB Recruit AJ Long Talks Syracuse’s ’13 Season

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Class of 2014 Syracuse QB commit AJ Long was one of many who sat comfortably in his living room to watch the Orange become bowl eligible against Boston College last Saturday. Long chatted with The Fizz and admitted his eyes were glued to the television.

“I was watching the game the entire time,” Long said. “There was no way they were going to lose that game.”

We’ve been hammering just how important the victory over the Eagles to a potential bowl game means for the future of the football program. Long was probably not the only recruit soaking in Syracuse’s thrilling comeback in the fourth quarter. Thanks to his knack of verbal leadership, AJ has been one of the most outspoken recruits in recent memory. He admired the way the Orange battled and earned a “hard-nosed” sixth win.

The Fizz preached earlier in the week that potential prospects down the road will learn Scott Shafer gives everyone a fair shot. The quarterback competition heading into the season really speaks to that point. Shafer didn’t cave into playing Drew Allen the entire season to bail himself out in a tough ACC schedule. Instead, Terrel Hunt started every in-conference affair and although it wasn’t pretty, Shafer and George McDonald’s guy managed to get the job done.

Long appreciates how Shafer is really true to his word:

“He has shown that throughout his entire coaching career. Once he says they are going to be a hardnosed football team, I believed it right away. It is pretty cool to see that it actually happened.”

Long also believes Syracuse stood out in 2013 compared to other schools for its ability to take advantage of its tested depth:

“Even though those guys are young, they are still experienced who can help you out. They fought through the season even with all the injuries. Jarrod West now, [Brisly] Estime when he was hurt, losing [Adrian] Flemming at the beginning of the year. They have fought through a lot of injuries that a lot of other teams in the ACC that if they lose those top guys, they aren’t as good as they are right now. Seeing the toughness of the guys you’re going to be playing with as well as the ceiling they have, and just the class we have coming in, adds to that.”

The injury bug undoubtedly serves as a major factor for all programs. How to manage the bug and overcome it says more about a football team. Luckily mainstay defensive veterans stayed relatively healthy because, as Long pointed out, the offense had new, working parts almost every week in the final stretch of the season. Perhaps it’s why McDonald struggled to implement a consistent offensive system. He’s received some criticism but also high praise, especially in last week’s final match.

The way in which Syracuse ended the regular season has Long fired up for National Signing Day. The Fizz referred a piece Syracuse.com did on Syracuse’s newest QB recruit Alin Edouard over to Long. The former Miami commit Edouard says he will be “the face of the program soon.” No need to panic about Long’s confidence. He’s excited for some healthy competition:

“That’s the fun part about college sports. You got four other guys that were the man in their areas that come into a program wanting to be the man, again. Had I had that question asked to me, I probably would have said the same answer. I think the same way he does right now thinking he’s ready to be the face of the program. I’m ready for it, [and] I hope he’s ready for it because that’s going to be an unbelievable competition in the next four years.”

Déjà vu all over again. We remember a similar QB recruit battle between former SU commit, now TCU quarterback Zach Allen and current freshman Austin Wilson. And of course this past season with Allen and Hunt. Long embraces the idea of matching his opposition rather than completely avoiding the situation.

The Friendship Christian senior suffered a concussion in practice early in the high school season, but returned to lead his squad to the quarterfinals. His 15 touchdowns to five interceptions are not as eye-popping to his junior stint when he finished with 37 TD passes and just one pick. The bottom line is recruits such as Long are even more excited to come up On the Hill after SU’s win last weekend. Whether the program earns its third bowl game in the last four years remains the serious question. Regardless, Long and others have been even more inspired.

Of course, Long has the intention to show up Edouard.

Buckle up, Orange fans. This should be fun.

Posted by: 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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