Springfield High School senior Tyler Long had dreams of playing college football as youngster, backed off of them a little bit when he questioned whether he would be good enough, and finally did another about face when his body and talent as a lineman grew into those dreams.
Springfield High School football player Tyler Long signed a letter of intent to play football at University of Toledo on Wednesday.
Long, 17, made it official Wednesday when he signed a letter of intent accepting a scholarship offer from the University of Toledo as part of college football’s early signing period.
The 6-foot-4, 295-pounder, who played offensive tackle for the Blue Devils, was recruited by the Rockets to play either guard or center. Depending on how well preseason for the 2018 season goes next summer, Long may bid for playing time as a true freshman instead of taking the redshirt route.
“Since I was a little kid, playing Xbox, playing NCAA [video game], it’s always been a dream of mine to play like that,” Long said of reaching the college ranks. “It wasn’t until middle school, talking with my parents, that I realized how much college costs.
“I thought, ‘Those people [college football players] are really good. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it.’ I never really had a clue that I could. Then, I started training.”
VIDEO: Tyler Long signs with Toledo
Long filled out physically, got healthy, and began to dismiss his doubts.
“My freshman and sophomore year I didn’t really play that much, and I got injured,” Long said. “My junior year, I came out and played, and I started getting emails, and then invites, and I started going to camps. Now I’m going to Toledo.”
The path to college football began for Long two summers ago.
“I was injured my sophomore year, and I only went to two camps — Toledo and Bowling Green,” he said. “Toledo was the one that really stuck out to me, and [where] I got noticed the most. Then I got interviewed at the BG camp. Between those two camps is where it all started.”
This past fall, Long was named to the Northern Lakes League, Northwest Ohio all-district, and Division II All-Ohio first teams as an offensive lineman.
His reasons for selecting UT are clear.
“The winning program, the family-like culture, and the campus is beautiful,” Long said. “I love being able to play local, and obviously [UT] being a MAC championship team this year is great.
“The coaching staff is unbelievable, and the family-like culture there is amazing. To go there and be treated like family is great. It was breathtaking, honestly. I would be in school and I’d get little Twitter [direct messages]. It was crazy to think that a college really wants you to come there that bad.”
Long also had scholarship offers from Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Marshall, and Navy. Since his career at Springfield ended in October, he became somewhat of a regular visitor at UT practices, just to study the program as much as possible, and to try to project himself into the program. He knows what he has to do between now and preseason camp to prepare.
“For sure, I’m going to have to run a lot,” Long said. “I know that it’s not an easy game, especially with the no-huddle [offense] they run. You have to be fast-tempo and be conditioned.
“From here, all the way until the day I step on campus, I’m going to have to work really hard — train, run, and just be ready for whatever comes next.”
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