Long’s Decision, Allison’s Future On Docket For WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The two most pressing issues that will get some clarity following this Friday’s 5:15 p.m. Camping World Bowl meeting with Syracuse are:
A: Is Miami transfer Jack Allison the answer at quarterback for West Virginia next year? Does freshman Trey Lowe III have a chance to beat him out?
B: Will linebacker David Long Jr., the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Year this past season, return for his senior season to torment opponents’ offenses?
While it would seem that the quarterback situation is the most critical, especially considering coach Dana Holgorsen’s quarterback-centric offensive philosophy, that has time to be worked out.
To base the decision off one game, the first start for Allison and the first appearance for Lowe, is unnecessary with spring practice, summer workouts and preseason camp ahead to allow the two to separate themselves.
On the other hand, Long goes into this bowl game seemingly undecided — or, at least, without disclosing — his decision on whether to skip his senior season. WVU will be much the worse off on the defensive side should he enter the NFL draft.
The other day, during the last media session WVU’s football team had before departing for Christmas and the bowl game, Long discussed how he is viewing his future and when he might make, or announce, a decision.
“After the bowl game. I’ve thought about it by myself, but we have time so I’ll worry about it after the bowl. I want to focus on the bowl game,” he said.
When it comes to what will influence his decision, he offered as you might expect from such a down-to-earth person, a family view of how the decision will be made, not one that included a financial statement and agent input.
“It would be my family and the coaches,” he said.
Considering the fact that he has not yet decided to go to the NFL, he didn’t really have a decision to make about playing in the bowl … but you get the idea that he felt neither his season nor his career would come to a proper end if he did not play.
“It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth,” he said, referring to giving up 104 points in losing consecutive games to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma to cost the Mountaineers a spot in the Big 12 Championship game.
The bowl game is important in another way to Long.
“I’ve never won a bowl game, so that’s definitely big for me,” he said.
He definitely plans before making a decision to submit to the NFL College Advisory Committee to have them evaluate whether or not he would be a first- or second-round pick and that, of course, will factor heavily into the decision.
But he also understands there could be benefits from returning for his senior year.
“I can always get better as a player. I can be a better leader. I see some good players coming in, so it’s always good to add to the team. We can improve on a lot of things,” he said.
On the field, Long doesn’t really have much to improve upon. His unique style of freelance play at linebacker led to one of the best seasons in WVU history.
He goes into the bowl games with 97 tackles and eight sacks and needs only one tackle for a loss to set the school record for TFLs in a season, owning 18.5 entering the game. That total was the highest in the Big 12 this year.