Photos: Isaiah Hole/247 (L) and David Long (R)
Jim Harbaugh and company climbed to the top of Los Angeles (CA) Loyola CB David Long's list over the last couple months, and this evening the top-100 prospect announced his commitment to Michigan on ESPNU. Long, a one-time Stanford commit, chose the Wolverines over Washington; Notre Dame also made a strong push for him after his Stanford decommitment.
Long is the 21st commit in Michigan's 2016 class; with today's decommitment from Antwaine Richardson, Long is currently the only cornerback in that group.
4*, #5 CB,
4*, #9 CB,
4*, 83, #5 ATH,
4*, 95, #8 CB,
4*, #8 CB,
Long's rankings are in a relatively tight grouping; that consistency helps push his composite ranking to the upper bounds of that spread. For what it's worth, if ESPN had ranked him as a corner instead of an athlete, he'd be the #11 CB in their position rankings.
Scout, Rivals, and 247 all list Long at 6'0" and either 170 or 175 pounds. ESPN pegs him at 5'10", 176—they even go so far as to say he "lacks ideal height" in their evaluation. I'm not going to attempt to guess a player's height based on film and still photos; he's not Jeremy Clark, but he looks tall enough—he's definitely bigger than Jourdan Lewis—and he plays the ball well in the air.
[Hit THE JUMP for the informative portion.]
Long was initially considered a two-way athlete, but after excelling at cornerback at camps last spring, the focus of his recruitment turned to defense. Scout's Greg Biggins covers the basics with his free evaluation:
Long is a two-way player who emerged this past spring as an elite cover corner. Has all the physical tools you could want in a next level DB including size, quickness, top end speed, instincts and toughness. He's a smart player with a high understanding of how to play the game and always competes at a high level. He's smooth in his backpedal, shows explosiveness getting in and out of his breaks and has excellent recovery speed as well-Biggins
Change of Direction
Areas to Improve
Long ended up on top performer lists at seemingly every camp in his area last spring/summer. Rivals' Adam Gorney ranked him seventh among defenders at the RCS LA in May:
Long was one of the cornerbacks who really tested himself against some great receivers and he definitely won more reps than he lost. He has excellent footwork and he's super smooth in his backpedal. When he has to turn and run the four-star can do that, too. Long has to watch his hands sometimes because he holds a little bit but there's no doubt he had another nice showing.
Those familiar with this site's view on cornerback play may find that last bit to be a positive instead of a negative. Anyway, later that month, Long earned a spot at The Opening with what Biggins deemed the second-best performance among all players at the Oakland regional:
We love the way Long carries himself, on and off the field. He's not a big trash talker and never complains about things like stars or rankings. He just goes out and competes and gets a little better every time we see him. He clocked a 4.40-40 in the testing phase and then won DB MVP honors over what the Student Sports staff called the best group of DBs they had seen at any camp this year.
In June, Angulo named Long the "Super Standout" of the Adidas California 7-on-7 Championships, where he starred on both sides of the ball:
Whether it was locking down his side of the field on defense or hauling in deep passes for touchdowns on offense, the four-star prospect proved once again why his name has gone national this year. Long was tremendous in coverage, staying with receivers through their breaks and batting away throws downfield. He showed great instincts and the ability to read the eyes of quarterbacks to jump into passing lanes.
At the Opening itself, 247's Keith Neibuhr ranked Long as the top defensive performer on Team Hypercool in the 7-on-7 portion:
The 4-star corner from Los Angeles made play after play after play. He broke quickly on the ball, turned well in coverage and made plays, often batting a pass away from a receiver.
There's not much out there on Long's senior season at Loyola—aside from the film, of course—but that's probably because scouts were met with this when they went to see him play:
Stanford commit David Long was hardly tested, as is the case usually with top-flight cover cornerbacks at the high school level. He matched up with Lee once on a crucial fourth-down play and won that battle.
The Lee mentioned is four-star UCLA WR commit Dymond Lee; even when Long faced players of that caliber, opponents knew to stay away from him.
After the season, Long saw his rankings rise. He made a 40-spot jump to #96 on Rivals when they did their December re-rank:
"Long is an athletic corner who was tested against some great receivers this year and usually won more than he lost. The Stanford commit is fine playing press coverage at the line or giving some cushion and then snapping up to knock down the ball. Moreso than most cornerbacks in the West, Long has tremendous athleticism and this keen sense of where the ball is going to make a play."
Long wasn't done there. Rivals cited him as one of the players who improved their stock during the Army All-American Game practices, and they didn't just say that—he got a bump to #81 in the final Rivals100. Long came away with a pick in the actual Army game; afterwards, Scout called him one of the West's top performers of the week:
Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola cornerback David Long is the West's top-rated cornerback and showed during the week exactly why. Because three of the receivers were 7v7 teammates of his, he knew a lot of their tendencies and did a good job of staying with the receivers. He hast great ball skills and closing speed and did a good job of breaking up a number of passes. Then he had a pick in the Army Bowl.
While Long is almost certain to end up at corner, especially given the current makeup of the class and the other prospects Michigan is pursuing, ESPN's thoughts on him as a receiver are worth a read:
Offensively displays rapid acceleration off the line and runs with a low center of gravity. Can weave and get on the toes of the defender in such a hurry that they get flat-footed in their back pedal and it is over if he is going vertical. Shows decisive burst into and out of cuts and has huge upside to be a lethal route runner because of his feet and quickness and is already a threat in this area. Can play on the outside or inside and is dangerous on quick hitters and bubble screens behind the line of scrimmage.
They add he "catches the football like a true wide receiver," isn't afraid to make plays in traffic, and also has plenty of potential as a return man.
Long holds offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Boston College, Cal, Colorado, Duke, Illinois, Miami (YTM), Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Washington, Washington State, and Wisconsin. His offer sheet is impressive from both a football and academic standpoint—again, he'd previously committed to Stanford.
Loyola consistently produces players who go on play in the Pac-12 and sometimes beyond, including current NFL players Anthony Barr (UCLA) and Chris Conte (Cal). While it's not quite a talent factory on par with a school like Concord De La Salle, it's a nice place to have a connection.
Either Long's stats on MaxPreps are incomplete or opponents avoided him like the plague as a senior. His numbers from that page: 12 games, 19 tackles, one interceptions, and five passes defensed. He made a bigger statistical impact on offense, catching 25 passes for 525 yards and seven TDs. He added 346 yards on 15 kickoff returns (23.1 yards/return).
FAKE 40 TIME
Long claims an unverified 4.40 on his Hudl page, which would normally merit a high number of FAKEs, but he also has verified track numbers; Long ran an electronically timed 10.80 in the 100-meter dash as a junior and also posted a wind-aided 10.67. Dude is fast. The 4.40 gets two FAKEs.
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Michigan should be set at corner in 2016 with Jourdan Lewis, Jeremy Clark, Channing Stribling, and Brandon Watson all set to return (not to mention Jabrill Peppers at nickel). Lewis, Clark, and Stribling will exhaust their eligibility next season, however, giving Long a great opportunity to earn a starting job in his second year on campus. Given the accelerated timeline for him competing for a starting spot, I wouldn't be surprised if the coaches find a way to get him on the field next year, likely on special teams with spot snaps on defense in low-leverage situations.
From there, Long has the potential to be an All-American corner, and it's not too hard to see him making an impact in the other two phases of the game, too. He will be playing for Jim Harbaugh, after all.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Long helps fill a huge need at cornerback, but with the departure of Richardson from the class, Michigan isn't done there; they'll turn up the heat on four-stars LaVert Hill and Jordan Fuller. If they miss on both of those prospects, they're going to have to grab a player who's not currently on the radar.
As for the class as a whole, Michigan is up to 21 commits, and we still expect one or two players from the current group not to end up in a class that could reach as many as 30. That leaves anywhere from nine to 11 spots to fill before Signing Day. Top remaining targets include DT Rashan Gary, TE/DE Devin Asiasi, DT Boss Tagaloa, WDE Connor Murphy, ATH Khaleke Hudson, WR Eddie McDoom, TE Chase Allen, WR Donald Stewart, WR Pie Young, WDE Joshua Uche, ILB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, and K Quinn Nordin; Texas grad transfer OL Jake Raulerson is also a strong possibility to fill a spot, though he's not bound to the same timeline as 2016 recruits.
Here's how the class stands at the moment: