May 2020 was a busy month for SU recruiting. The Orange added six prospects to the 2021 recruiting class with talent ranging everywhere from Wisconsin to South Carolina.
One of those players is Palmetto State native Kendall Long.The wideout was the third May commitment, making his decision on the 5th, just two hours after tight end Derek McDonald and a day after defensive end Hayden Nelson joined the fold.
The rising Senior was just the third offensive commit in the class that has otherwise been loaded with defensive players.
Long is a 3-star prospect given a 0.8336 rating in the 247sports composite, the 214th wide receiver, and the 22nd overall player in South Carolina.
He has offers from Akron, Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Mercer, Richmond, and Syracuse.
He never narrowed down his list to a top group, instead choosing the opportunity with the highest pedigree in Syracuse, his lone Power Five offer. (although Coastal Carolina looks quite good this year).
Long is 6-foot-3, 210-215 pounds according to 247sports.com and is a hound in the weightroom. His max bench comes in at 365 lbs, according to his hudl.com page, and he can also push 185 pounds for 32 reps. If you need video proof, check out his twitter page.
Long also has good speed to go with that strength. He runs an unverified 4.49 according to his hudl.com page. He claims a shuttle time of 4.24, also unverified.
Finally, he has a 40-inch vertical jump, which would’ve been good for 7th in this year’s NFL Scouting Combine class.
How do Long’s numbers match up with proven wide receiver talent? Let’s take a look at Trishton Jackson’s 2020 NFL Combine results.
Jackson ran a 4.5 40-yard dash and recorded a 36-inch vertical jump (he opted out of the bench press testing). Long and Jackson’s stats are pretty similar, in fact Long claims a faster (unverified) 40 time.
Long certainly has all the physical tools to succeed as a receiver in the ACC and his physical traits flash his upside.
After watching Long’s Junior season highlight film, I am very intrigued by his ability and the potential he could have in Babers offense.
Long was used in the screen game, jet sweeps, and of course, the downfield passing game. He has great vision when he gets the ball out of the backfield and can shift gears swiftly. But he also has great patience allowing time for his blocks to set up and then follows them well. Babers ran a lot of wide receiver screens in 2019 and 2020 out of 4-wide stack, trips, and trio formations and is trying to create mismatches on the outside. With that in mind, there could be some potential for Long in these 10 and 11-personnel sets in the future.
Additionally, he has a knack for breaking the first tackle. Long breaks plays open with his ability to fight off tacklers and keep his legs driving. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds he’s very difficult to bring down and he loves to get physical.
- Plays Fast
He doesn’t have elite (verified) speed, but he plays the game fast. He has the acceleration to get away after he ducks a tackle or two and can break plays wide open in the process.
- Good technique
Long’s route running is smooth and fluid. He doesn’t waste any time and space with bad movements. Additionally, he is very good at getting his head around and getting up-field after catching the football. Long uses his 6’3” frame to his advantage and his film shows it. He can beat defenders vertically and come down with jump balls, which is something Syracuse really didn’t have in 2019 or 2020.
Finally, there were plays embedded in the film where you can really see both his drive as a competitor and leadership as a team player. Skip ahead to the 4:56 mark, his quarterback threw an interception and Long was nowhere near the play. Instead of taking a backseat, he gets on his horse, runs down the defender, and absolutely rocks his world. This is the kind of intensity and energy you love to see from a high school prospect.
- Experienced Blocker
Also, don’t forget his ability in the downfield blocking game. Long doesn’t shy away from contact and is experienced with technique. In fact, his high school team likes to mix in some triple-option concepts, which relies on receivers blocking the corners, safeties, and sometimes crack blocking linebackers.
Player Comparison – Jamal Custis
- The physical traits are comparable
- Jamal Custis was 6-foot-5, 232 pounds when he arrived at Syracuse. Kendall Long is listed at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds as a rising Senior with time to add to that frame. Syracuse doesn’t have a receiver on the roster that is 6-foot plus and over 200 pounds. Long is built like a tight end, but runs and plays like a wide receiver.
- The playmaking ability
- Custis emerged in his senior season (2018) as a downfield receiver. He had a knack for making catches in traffic and winning jump balls in one-on-one situations. Long has that potential and then some, he can get the ball in the screen game and in the misdirection plays like jet sweeps, fly sweeps, and reverses. Additionally, being 6-foot-3 and lanky also helps on the outside with high pointing the football and making plays on 50-50 balls.
Long is a prospect that has flown way below the radar, and has all the tools to be a power five starter for multiple seasons.What Dino Babers sees in Long is a project that has the physical tools and the upside to be a big receiver that can play on the outside.
Even though Babers likes to redshirt most of his freshman class every year, Long is a player that can play immediately and have an impact. (It also helps that the NCAA allows players to play in four games and still receive a redshirt.) Long could have a role on special teams as a freshman and perhaps some opportunities in the offense, in the screen and run blocking game.