The Oregon Ducks boasted the No. 2 scoring offense and No. 3 rushing offense in all of college football this season thanks to stellar play from their offensive line. One of the key contributors to that line, senior Kyle Long, will be playing his final game for Oregon in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl after his appeal for another year of eligibility was denied by the NCAA.
Long, the son of NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long, originally went to play baseball for the Florida State Seminoles out of high school. Academic problems and partying caught up to Long in Tallahassee, however, and he was forced to leave FSU. He returned to football at Saddleback (Calif.) Junior College before enrolling at Oregon.
This season, he started ten games this year (his only one with the Ducks) after junior Mana Greig went down with a knee injury. At 6-foot-7, 300 pounds, Long was a massive, physical presence for the Ducks inside, opening up holes for All-American running back Kenjon Barner.
Though his skill-set is still raw, Long is likely to be an early-round NFL draft pick this coming April. His pure potential, massive size and NFL pedigree will make him a very attractive prospect for NFL scouts, despite his limited on-field experience.
Long was petitioning for an extra year of eligibility based on medical hardship stemming from his partying days at FSU, citing chemical dependency as the reason for the hardship. The NCAA, not surprisingly, did not find his case compelling and quickly closed the case on Long’s appeal.
Oregon has solid depth on its line with three projected Fiesta Bowl starters set to return next season in left tackle Tyler Johnstone, a redshirt freshman, and center Hroniss Grasu and right tackle Jake Fisher, both sophomores. Greig is projected to come back next season from his injury as a starter at guard along with regular reserve Hamani Stevens.
If long had been able to come back, Oregon would have been in the discussion for the Pac 12‘s best offensive line in 2013. Without him, they’ll still be very good, but his presence will be missed in Eugene next season without a doubt.