It took Kyle Long three schools (and two sports) to find the right situation to demonstrate his prodigious athletic ability. Luckily for Duck fans the perfect fit was found in Eugene. Now, Long is the first-round pick (number 20 overall) of the Chicago Bears and is preparing to compete for a starting spot when training camp commences at the end of July.
Originally a serious left-handed pitching prospect (drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2008), Long took his talents to Florida State and was on track to be a MLB pitcher but he almost lost his opportunity due to poor decision making. He left FSU in 2009, and after discussing with his family (his father is NFL HOF’er Howie Long, and brother is Pro Bowl defensive end Chris Long of the St. Louis Rams) decided to transfer to Saddleback Community College (Calif.) and try his hand at the family business.
An extraordinarily gifted athlete, Long stands over 6-foot-6, is light on his feet, and extremely quick. He excelled in two seasons at Saddleback, earning multiple D-1 scholarship offers. He chose the University of Oregon, and by mid-season 2012 was a standout at left guard. He petitioned the NCAA for an additional year of eligibility, but was denied. Having exhausted his eligibility, he entered the NFL draft where he was labeled as a ‘project player’ with tremendous upside due to his athletic ability, but lack of experience against NFL-caliber competition. Nonetheless, the Bears selected him 20th overall to protect franchise QB Jay Cutler.
Long is a perfect example of how athletes with the right guidance and support system can recover from mistakes made at a young age, and excel if they choose to put their goals first. Good luck Kyle!