Terps WR Deon Long impressing at practices for East-West Shrine Game

Matt Zenitz
Contact ReporterBaltimore Sun Media Group
The East-West Shrine Game can improve a prospect's draft status, and the Terps' Deon Long is taking advantage.

Russ Lande's week has been spent in St. Petersburg, Fla., watching East-West Shrine Game practices and talking about the participants with media members and NFL scouts in attendance.

One of the names that keeps coming up in conversations?

Maryland wide receiver Deon Long.

"I've heard it from media. I've heard it from scouts," said Lande, a former NFL scout who is the director of college scouting for the Montreal Alouettes and an NFL draft analyst. "Everyone I've spoken to, when we've talked about receivers, just about all of them have mentioned Deon Long as one of the better ones here."

Unheralded entering the week, Long has impressed both scouts and media members with his work during practices leading up to Saturday's all-star game at Tropicana Field. His efforts there should improve his draft stock after he had 51 catches for just 575 yards and two touchdowns as a senior at Maryland this past season.

"I think he's come down here and really shown the quickness and explosion that teams want to see from receivers," Lande said. "I think he's run really good routes, caught the ball well and put himself in position to maybe be a third- or fourth-round pick. He's had a really good week. I'd say he's one of the two or three better receivers here in terms of what he's shown this week. He's been really good."

A Washington, D.C., native, the 6-foot, 185-pound Long played at New Mexico under current Terps offensive coordinator Mike Locksley after transferring from West Virginia.

After posting 47 catches for 809 yards and four touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in 2011, Long left New Mexico following Locksley's dismissal as coach. Long landed at Iowa Western Community College and made 100 catches for 1,625 yards and 25 touchdowns before signing with Maryland as a five-star recruit.

Long had 32 catches for 489 yards and a touchdown in seven games as a junior in 2013 before suffering a broken leg that sidelined him for the rest of the season.

Represented by former Maryland football player Chad Wiestling, Long has been training at the EXOS performance facility in Frisco, Texas.

"I was really excited to get out here this week," said Long, whom CBS Sports projected as a seventh-round pick or undrafted free agent entering this week.

"I feel like I've always been that guy that's underrated, so I use that as motivation. ... I know what I can do, but it means nothing if you're not showing it, so that's what I try to come out and do is work hard and show that."

It seems to have worked.

Respected draft analyst Tony Pauline from DraftInsider.net tweeted as early as Monday that Long was "looking very sharp."

NBC Sports draft analyst Josh Norris tweeted later in the day, "[William and Mary receiver] Tre McBride and Deon Long are putting on a show today."

"On the East roster, the wide receivers have been the most impressive unit on either side, but Deon Long has been right there with all those guys, if not been one of the better ones in terms of how he's practiced, his ball skills, attacking the ball," CBS Sports draft analyst Dane Brugler said of Long, who has also seen work as a kick and punt returner during practice. "That's something he showed on his tape. He doesn't wait for the ball to come to him. He goes after it, catches it with his hands cleanly and immediately turns upfield and makes something happen after the catch, so there's a lot to like about him."

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