Before his record-breaking sophomore season at Iowa Western Community College, Deon Long spent his summer days working out and running routes with Maryland quarterback Ricardo Young and wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
The offseason workouts clearly paid off, with Long catching 25 touchdown passes in leading Iowa Western to the National Junior College Athletic Association championship, and Diggs emerging as one of the most electric wide receivers in college football.
This fall, Long and Diggs will team up with the Terps, and the obvious question will be this: How will opposing defenses stop those Maryland receivers?
"They're not going to be able to. That's my mindset going in," Long said. "They're not going to be able to. If they double me, we'll make them pay on the inside. If they double the inside, I'll make them pay on the outside. [We're] just working together to keep defenses honest."
A D.C. native and 2009 Dunbar High grad, Long started his college career at West Virginia but never played for the Mountaineers. He transferred to New Mexico, where he caught 47 passes for 809 yards and four touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in 2011.
Thanks to his success with the Lobos, Long was plenty confident heading into his JUCO season last fall at Iowa Western.
"I know I'd come in and do some things that hadn't been done," Long said. "But the work I put in was what people don't see. … I think I took my game to a different level because of my offensive coordinator. He got me the ball, pressed the issue with me in the slot, let me run routes. It's just a different type of offense. I had to take my game to another level."
Maryland will be the beneficiary of Long's talent starting this spring. Rivals.com's top-ranked JUCO player signed with the Terps last month and will enroll in classes next week.
"Being a successful JUCO player, it gives me a lot of confidence to prove to people that I deserve to be on this level," Long said. "I could do it at New Mexico, in prep school [and] at junior college. Now I'm going to come in and do it in the ACC."
Here's an introduction to Long:
Name: Deon Long
Birthdate: June 14, 1991
Birthplace: Washington D.C.
Hometown: Washington D.C.
Nickname: "My friends call me Feon. I don't know why. They just started calling me Feon a couple months ago."
Position: Wide receiver
Junior college: Iowa Western Community College
JUCO statistics: 100 catches for 1,625 yards and 25 touchdowns
Rankings: Rivals.com – Five-star prospect, No. 1 JUCO player in the country. Scout.com – Three-star prospect. ESPN.com – Three-star prospect, No. 49 JUCO player, 79 rating. 247Sports.com – Four-star prospect, No. 7 JUCO player, 96 rating.
Bench max: 285
40-yard dash: 4.3
Other schools considered: "Oregon, Alabama came in there with interest, but I think I probably would have went to Illinois with my [friend] Martize Barr."
Favorite NFL player: Brandon Marshall and Arrelious Benn
Favorite NFL team: Dallas Cowboys
Favorite all-time Terp: Vernon Davis, D'Qwell Jackson
Favorite music: Gucci Mane, Chief Keef, Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa
Favorite movie: "Any Given Sunday"
Favorite book: "Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama's Plan to Renew America's Promise"
Favorite TV show: "Everybody Hates Chris"
Favorite food: Buffalo wings
Favorite high school class: Marriage and Family
Other high school sports: Ran track
Hobbies: "I do a lot of off-the-field work. It could be night, raining or snowing. I'll go out there, running around the field, running routes, catching passes from my quarterback, Ricardo [Young], going to the gym. Just being around people that I love, people that I work out with."
Intended major: Communications with a minor in sports management
Something that not many people know about you: "I'm not cocky, [but] when it's brought up, I tend to speak on the success that I've had. Not throw it in your face, but just to say 'I'm here, I'm accomplished, I've done this and I've done that.' But I'm not a cocky person. Everybody thinks I'm cocky, but I'm really not, though. I'm a humble guy."
Best football moment: "I had 14 catches and won the MVP of the national championship in junior college, broke every record known to man."
Role model: "My role model would be my mom. With the stuff I put her though, she cries, but she doesn't break down. She takes everything in stride, does what she needs to do. She believes. She has faith. That's my biggest motivation."
Why Maryland? "One reason is that I've been all around the country. Prep school [at Hargrave Military Academy] was four-and-a-half hours away. New Mexico was 24½ hours away. Iowa Western was 17 hours away. My mom really couldn't come to New Mexico or Iowa Western games. It was weird not seeing her. That was one of the main reasons. And just the relationship I had with Coach [Mike] Locksley and the players that are already at the school, that played a big part of it."