Only 300 high school football players from around the country are listed as the top prospects on ESPN.com each year. A cornerback at Loyola High School claimed one of those coveted spots, and now he gets to choose which college team he wants to play for.
David Long, ranked the 105th overall prospect in the country and 10th in California, verbally committed to play for Stanford University, but the recruiting process is far from over.
“College students can’t sign a letter of intent until the first Wednesday in February,” Loyola head coach Marvin Sanders said.
That means Long can still change his mind about the college he attends. It also means college coaches will continue to try to persuade him to consider their programs instead.
“It happens on both sides,” Sanders said. “Sometimes schools change their mind as well. But college coaches never give up on a player until his name is signed, sealed and delivered.”
When he announced his verbal commitment to Stanford in August, Long said it was nerve-wracking because other coaches were trying to get in contact with him to change his mind.
“It kind of throws off what you were thinking,” he said. “But after I made the decision, I allowed it to set in, and I felt like I made a good one.”
Sanders said Long’s work ethic is what made him stand out.
“If you come out to practice, you’ll see he’s a kid that tries to finish every play through the end zone,” Sanders said.
Long started playing when he was five or six years old, he said. He felt himself start to separate from the rest of players when he was in the sixth grade.
“A lot of guys don’t have the effort and will to get up and work out,” Long said. “Even when you’re between the lines and competing until the very end of the play. That’s something I’ve built over time.”
He started receiving recruiting letters when he was a sophomore and has lost count how many he has received since.
‘I didn’t think things would happen that fast, but it made me want to get better and keep competing because it was just a taste of what things could be,” he said.
Part of the decision process involved visiting schools and meeting with college coaches.
“I think about how [the school and campus] feel when I’m there,” he said. “That’s not really something you can replicate over the phone. I consider the relationship with the position coach. And education of course.”
He said he receives a phone call every day from a Division-I football coach checking in with him.
“My sophomore year, I was kind of nervous because I didn’t want to say the wrong thing,” he said. “I would spend a few minutes to gather my thoughts before calling. But now, I’m kind of use to it, it’s just like a normal conversation.”
Long said Stanford impressed him with how the defensive backs played when he visited the school. But he said the education potential also impressed him, as he hopes to pursue architectural engineering as a major.
“They do a good job allowing the athletes to network. So for instance, football players don’t room with other football players,” he said. “If I go, I’ll be with another student. I think that’s another opportunity to network.”
Long said after Stanford, he is also considering Notre Dame, University of Michigan, University of Washington, and Ohio State University. He said he has received support from friends and family and that he hasn’t felt any pressure to decide one way or the other.
“It’s solely based on me at this point,” he said. “So I’m just trying to take my time and make a good decision.”
As for the ESPN rankings, Long said he didn’t really pay attention to it, but that his friends showed him his number when it came out. He said he will try to break the top 100 this season, among his other goals for his last year at Loyola.
“I’m grateful for what I have,” he said. “But I can’t think about it for too long or I’ll get complacent.”
Sanders, who played at the University of Nebraska and coached college football for more than 20 years, said he is offering guidance, but he doesn’t want to push Long one way or the other.
“I want to make sure he’s looking at the right things,” Sanders said. “I don’t care where you choose, but let’s look at the reasons why you’re picking school A or school B.”
Loyola (4-0) will play tomorrow against Chaminade at 7 p.m. at Loyola High School, 1901 Venice Blvd.
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