The 2017 Mountaineer football profile series continues with defensive players this week. David Long is the next of Tony Gibson’s guys to enjoy the spotlight. Let’s take a look at the redshirt Sophomore and what is in store for him in 2017.
David Long Jr., LB, #11,
Year: Sophomore (Redshirt)
Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
High School: Winton Woods High School
How he got to Morgantown
David Long tore a swath through SW Ohio his senior year en route to 110 tackles, All-Ohio honorable mention honors and a consensus three star rating by all the major recruiting outlets. Multiple P5 programs came calling, including Oregon, NC State, Missouri, Illinois, Georgia Tech and the hometown Bearcats. However, it was Tony Gibson who personally sold Long on how dynamic he could be in the 3-3-5 odd stack that cemented his eventual enrollment at West Virginia during the summer of 2015.
Long’s 2016 campaign was nothing short of impressive and replete with highlights. It was during the Mountaineers’ losing effort to Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl, however, that he truly announced his presence to the college football world. 11 tackles, including one TFL may not erase the sting of losing a forgettable game against the ‘Canes down in Florida, but it does make for an interesting case study for what a young linebacker with incredible potential can do when he’s fully unleashed.
After winning the starting job at the WILL position last season, the expectations for Long entering 2017 were, to put it lightly, lofty. Unfortunately, the injury bug has seemed to taken a liking to Morgantown in recent years and decided this year that it would tap #11 and leave him rehabbing a torn Meniscus.
Thankfully, there is talent within the linebacking corps and Dylan Tonkery, brother of former Mountaineers saftey Wes, has progressed tremendously since arriving in Morgantown last year. But, save for a herculean performance over the first few weeks of the season by Tonkery, it’s expected that Long will return to the starting WILL spot where last year he recorded 63 tackles and 4.5 sacks.
There’s precedent for linebackers of Long’s physical make-up to succeed greatly in the Big 12 (see: Eric Striker), not to mention inside Gibson’s “Pond Fork” defense that creates havoc using athletic linebackers to blitz, drop into coverage and fill run lanes out of consistently odd alignments. Long’s game in 2016, often enough, could simply be quantified as “see ball/get ball” in its simplicity. While that may be a risky endeavor for less athletic players, Long plays with a mean streak to go along with his combination of speed and badger-like persona to get to the ball carrier at all costs.
With another year under his belt and extra mental reps to take in while he returns back to 100%, expect Long to emerge as a complete, destructive weapon for Tony Gibson’s defense this fall.
Dylan Tonkery does more than just act as a stop-gap- he emerges as a competent run-stopper on the edge and helps propel West Virginia to a 3-0 record by the time David Long is medically cleared and back in the lineup for the Mountaineers’ trip out to Lawrence, KS. Long, at this point, will be chomping at the bit to get back on the turf and run roughshod through a Kansas offensive line that has no prior experience in dealing with feral, rage-fueled beasts.
With a surprisingly effective defensive line lead by Xavier Pegues and Adam Shuler helping clear lanes and absorb blocks, David Long once again injects magic into the #11 jersey and helps the Mountaineers stay undefeated going into a November 25th clash with Oklahoma, all the while managing to stockpile over 80 tackles, 6 sacks 10 TFL and All-America honors, to boot.
The 2017 Mountaineer profile series will continue to feature defensive players throughout the week.