Despite his optimism, Oregon senior offensive lineman Kyle Long was denied his appeal to the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility. Long -- who transferred to Oregon from Saddleback Community College in California -- originally enrolled at Florida State in 2008 on a baseball scholarship, but left the school in January 2009 as he battled chemical dependency issues. Long's battle with substance abuse and ultimate recovery was the crux of his appeal to the NCAA for an additional year, however it is now known that Long's final game in an Oregon uniform will come January 3 against Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Oregon senior offensive lineman Kyle Long has been denied an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA.
"First off, I'm just disappointed in the ruling, but very excited about the future," said Long Wednesday. "All I'm thinking about is going down to Glendale and winning a Fiesta Bowl with my teammates. It would be a great way to top this thing off."
Following football season, Long says that one of his goals is to complete his education at Oregon.
"The main thing is, I want to keep working towards getting my degree," said Long. "I wouldn't have been finished until next year regardless, so I need to come up with a plan to keep my academic focus intact."
Going in to the appeal process, Long had been cautiously hopeful that he would be granted another season, though he admits that it wasn't necessarily something he spent a lot of time worrying about or stewing over.
"You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can't predict the weather," said Long, momentarily channelling the hip hop duo Outkast.
"I honestly was just so focused on showing up a practice everyday and trying to get better. The decision was out of my hands the whole time and I tried to make that an emphasis to my teammates and stuff who were wondering about it."
In addition to earning his degree, Long also has professional football aspirations. Despite only playing in 10 of 12 games for the Ducks this season, Long has emerged as one Oregon's top offensive linemen as the season has drawn to a close. His small but impressive body of work, combined with his football lineage (father Howie and brother Chris have each played/are currently playing in the NFL), has many NFL Draft analysts projecting Long to go anywhere from the second round to the fifth round in the April draft. Attention to detail and technique are just a few of the things Long says he needs to focus on to improve his already convincing draft stock.
"I need to continue to work at the things that have gotten me this far," said Long. "Continue to learn from the great coaches around me, watch the players around me who are great players and just watch a lot of film. Like I said, attention to detail. That's the main thing -- technique. If you look at the next level, I think the main thing that separates guys is their technique. They're technically sound and that's where you need to improve at if you want to have a shot."