He led Syracuse to its first win in over a month. He’s thrown more touchdowns in two games than Terrel Hunt did in five. And he became the first true freshman in team history to win his starting debut.
Even at a young age, AJ Long has shown the traits of a successful college quarterback – the strong arm, the quick feet and the mental confidence.
But Long admits that back in high school, he started thinking he wouldn't be good enough to play Division-I football. There was always that one trait missing: the height.
First, defensive tackle John Raymon beat the odds by recovering from a severe knee injury faster than anyone expected.
On Saturday, he helped the Orange (3-4) beat the Demon Deacons by assisting on Syracuse’s second defensive touchdown of the day.
"I’m very excited," Raymon said this week on returning to football. "My team’s excited, my coaches are excited and I feel like we’re all in a good place and we’re all on the same page now. I’m happy I’m back."
With a pair of injured quarterbacks, Scott Shafer now turns to his third-string passer to try to end a four game losing streak, save Syracuse’s season and, possibly, save his own job.
Syracuse couldn’t upset top-ranked Florida State last week, but Long impressed in his college debut. The true freshman completed 16-of-27 passes for 167 yards against the Seminoles along with two touchdowns and two interceptions. It was a rare bright spot for the Orange, who’s lost each of its last four games by at least ten points.
It hasn’t been another season of blowouts for Florida State, but they’ve done enough to do what many of the highest ranked teams haven’t – win. The reigning national champions comes to the Carrier Dome to face a Syracuse team that has lost its last three games. The Seminoles, meanwhile, haven’t lost since the 2012 season.
“There’s a reason why they’ve won 21 in a row: great coaching and great players,” Scott Shafer said. “We have a daunting task in front of us, but we're looking forward to it.”