June 24, 2010

Long family living a Bulldog dream

It's one thing to have one son fortunate enough to continue his football career on the collegiate level.

To have two is a thrill Tim Long - father of Georgia redshirt freshman Austin Long and verbal commitment Hunter Long - is still trying to comprehend.

"It is very amazing yet humbling feeling right now. It really has not hit me yet to be quite honest. Hunter got the call Sunday night, and obviously I was blown away," Tim Long said in an interview with UGASports. "I could not have written the script any better, we are just very fortunate."

The elder Long said it certainly comes as no surprise that his two sons wound up wearing Red and Black.

"When Austin decided to be a Georgia Bulldog, this family went all Dawg. We are all in, and Hunter definitely got caught up in that as well," he said. "I think he tried to fight it for awhile because he wanted to make sure that is what he wanted. I think all along he knew that is where he wanted to be. We are just so excited, so blessed and so lucky, I cannot even describe how good it feels."

However, both offensive linemen still took different paths to Athens.

Austin Long boasted offers from many big-time programs such as Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Tennessee and Michigan. Hunter Long, on the other hand, was a late-bloomer in the eyes of some and had to prove to Georgia coaches at the recent Mark Richt camp that he was worthy of the offer he really coveted to have.

"Austin got all of his offers really in a six week period. Hunter got out there and competed for his spot. He and I sat down and I asked him what he wanted out of this process. And he said for the first time, "I want to go to Georgia." I said okay what are you going to do about it?" Tim Long said. "He said I am going to go to camp and I am going to earn a spot. I said ok that is a good plan. So to see him go through and do that was pretty neat."

Naturally, father sees no reason why his son can't succeed in Athens despite not yet being rated by Rivals or the fact Georgia was the only SEC school to make him an official offer.

"I feel like Hunter has all of the tools to make it at the next level. He grew up a big SEC fan so to see him grow up and that dream come to life is amazing," Long said. "He started as a sophomore on a line full of seniors, and he got the job done."

Long said he understood why Hunter had to prove himself to Bulldog coaches before an offer was finally made.

An impression was certainly made.

"Hunter has camped at Georgia three times, and I always felt like Stacy (Searels) wanted Hunter," he said. "But I look at the numbers just like all of you do, and I was not sure there would be room for him."

Now that there is, Long said his son couldn't have found a better home.

"There is another thing that is so unique about Georgia. Hunter has felt like he was on the team from day one. The players have treated him like he was on the team. I am talking about Matthew Stafford to Knowshon Moreno, right on down to the last walk-ons," Tim Long said. "They love Hunter, and they treat him like he is part of the family. That played into making his decision for him."

A resident of Memphis, Tim Long joked that he's going to now need to find a job in Georgia in order to be closer to his son.

But the way he looks at it that would be a small sacrifice to make.

"It is amazing to know that both my sons will be playing at the same place. I am so thankful to all of the people who have helped my kids along the way, people who have guided us or through prayers; there are just so many people who have been involved in their lives," he said. "t is nuts that both of my kids will be playing at the same school. And it is not just any school; it is THE UNIVERSITY of GEORGIA."

Both brothers will get the chance to play together.

Today marks the sixth months since Austin Long underwent surgery on his back. He is scheduled to have a final checkup this week and according to Tim Long, if everything is where it's supposed to be, Austin will be given the green light to resume full football activity.

"They (Georgia players) started lifting last week, and he has started running some, too," Tim Long said. "He has not had any setbacks since the surgery."

Part of the reason for Hunter's announcement today was to pay tribute to the six months since his brother's surgery.

"Austin has hung in there through the injury, and I feel everything happens for a reason. He has matured and he learned to be appreciative of what he had," Tim Long said. "I fully expect him to take advantage of that knowing he has a gift and he will do something with it. This adversity was new for him, so I feel he will be a better player for it."

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