Orange should play it smart with AJ Long.
Whether AJ Long is healthy or not, he should not play another down for the Syracuse Orange this year.
If he does not play again, he may be able to apply for a medical redshirt, and the freshman would come back next year as a redshirt freshman with four more years of eligibility.
With no bowl game this year after the loss to Duke, Syracuse does not get the benefit of having an extra month of practices. So, why not sit AJ Long and let him really use these three starts to the full benefit. If Long sits out and is given a medical redshirt, he would be able to come back and grow as a player and develop even more over a five year period. It would also take him out of harms way. There is no reason to play a kid who may be hurt in either of these last two games because there is essentially nothing to play for.
Whether Long can get a medical hardship waiver – medical Redshirt – or not remains a question of itself. The rules say in order to get a waiver, you must play in less than 30% of your team’s competitions, Long has played just 3 full games, so that is less than 30%. However, the other part of the rule is that the injury must occur in the first half of the team’s schedule. Long’s injury occurred in the 9th game of a 12-game schedule, so that is clearly not the first half of a team’s schedule.
Now, this doesn’t mean that Long would have no possibility of getting the medical hardship waiver. The NCAA, in its sometimes convoluted organization, has allowed waivers for kids who seemingly exceed the requirements and have rejected waivers for kids who seemingly fit the requirements. Nothing is out of the question just yet.
But first, SU must decide if Long will play in two weeks when the Orange travels to Pittsburgh. Really, he shouldn’t. Let Austin Wilson and Mitch Kimble fight it out and see who can perform better. Each performed admirably Saturday against Duke, after all. The Orange had no business being tied with the No.22 team in the nation heading into the fourth quarter with its 3rd and 4th string quarterbacks splitting time under center. But the fact remains, they were very much in the game until a disaster five and a half minute stretch early in the quarter.
After seeing Kimble and Wilson this past weekend, let them play against Pitt and BC, even if AJ is healthy. Don’t let Long risk a long-term injury. Nerve damage is a legitimate and scary injury that the program and AJ should take seriously.
When asked by the Fizz after the game, SU Athletics had said they hadn’t even thought of the possibility of applying for a medical hardship waiver for Long. SU also said it would be no guarantee Long is granted a waiver because the “NCAA has their own formula” to determine who gets approved.
But first things first, Scott Shafer and the Orange need to get Long healthy. Allow him to regain feeling in his hand, which was something that bothered the freshman according to Coach Shafer. Get AJ healthy, and don’t let him even touch the field before he is fully healthy. In the mean time, determine whether you can apply for a medical redshirt and get AJ Long a fifth year of eligibility.
Posted: Seth Goldberg