Coming out of high school, tight end Hunter Long’s pursuit of a professional football career looked bleak. The 6-foot-5, 253-pound tight end had no offers following his senior season at Exeter High School in New Hampshire in 2015.
Fast forward to now and Long is coming off a breakout redshirt junior year at Boston College. Considered a mid-round NFL Draft prospect, Long is an option for NFL teams looking for an all-around tight end.
“This is definitely a dream come true for me,” Long said on Glenn Clark Radio March 25. “Everything’s kind of falling into place and right in time for pro day, [which took place March 26], and the draft. So I definitely can’t complain.”
Rewinding back to 2015, the tight end finished his senior year at Exeter with 30 receptions for 508 yards and seven touchdowns. He spent a post-graduate year at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, which helped propel him to his only Division I offer by Boston College.
“Coming out of high school with no offers knowing that I can play at that level,” Long said, “it’s a chip on my shoulder that I’ve carried my whole career.”
Long redshirted during his freshman season in Newton, Mass., since the Eagles had five experienced tight ends on the roster at the time. Long believes that helped his development as a football player.
“When I first got the BC, I was behind so many older tight ends,” Long said. “I kind of had to pay my dues and fall in line and then waited my turn. I was happy doing it cause those are my guys.”
Once the depth chart cleared up for Long, the tight end took advantage. During his time with the Eagles, Long posted 89 receptions for 1,297 yards and nine touchdowns. His most successful season coming in 2020, when Long racked up 57 receptions for 685 yards and five touchdowns.
Many athletes opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, but that thought was never in Long’s mind. The performance he put forth in 2020 was something he not only relished, but was something he expected.
“I was very confident that this type of year was coming. … In the midst of the pandemic and stuff I didn’t even think about opting out because I kind of knew that I had to put this season together,” Long said.
The breakout season shot the redshirt junior’s draft stock up. He is considered a third- or fourth-round pick by Walter Football, which rates him as the No. 4 tight end in the class. Still, the feeling of being overlooked is something that Long says has built his career.
“[Being overlooked] has definitely helped me get to this point,” Long said. “And I don’t see any reason, reason stop playing like that.”
One of those tight ends ranked above him is Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth, whom Long says he has developed a good relationship. Both trained and roomed together in California while preparing for the draft. Both tight ends signed with the same agency (Athletes First) coming out of college, and Long says the friendship has helped him.
“We became good friends. I mean, obviously we’re competing against each other, but I never want to see him fail,” Long said. “So we don’t really ever speak of the competition. We just both do our own thing.”
Athletes First also represents Ravens tight end Mark Andrews — which begs the question: If Long is on the board in the later rounds would Baltimore take a chance on him? The Ravens could be looking for another receiving tight end to pair with Andrews.
Boston College runs a tight-end-friendly offense, as do the Ravens, so that Long could fit right into coming into the pros. For Long, the thought of putting on the purple and black is, in his words, “intriguing.”
“I mean, obviously it’s a really intriguing spot. It’s kind of the same way BC had treated me coming into college,” Long said, noting that the Eagles used a lot of two- and three-tight end sets. “… Any team that uses multiple tight ends and uses them a lot is obviously more intriguing than teams that just have that one guy that they go to.”
For more from Long, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of BC Athletics