In a college signing ceremony at the David Crockett High School library on Friday, the Pioneers catcher made his intentions known to play for Tennessee Tech next season. While the Golden Eagles baseball team, which includes former Sullivan East standout Ryan Flick, appealed to him, there was another comfort level on campus.
“It really reminds me of home,” Long said. “It’s not too big or too small. It just feels like it’s the place I needed to be, a great fit for me.”
Tech will be getting someone tall and lean for the position at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds. Long, a two-time All-Big 7 Conference selection, finished with a .354 batting average with three home runs, 15 doubles, 24 RBIs, 18 walks and 27 runs scored his junior season.
Long served as a backup to Dakota Allen as a freshman where he mainly caught the second game of the varsity double headers. Breaking into the starting lineup as a sophomore, he hit .406 and scored 24 runs. Scott Hagy, the former Crockett coach now serving as athletic director, estimated that he kept Long out of the lineup for no more than 5-10 innings over his sophomore and junior seasons.
“He’s that durable,” Hagy said. “He never complains and is a great kid to have out there.”
Besides playing for his high school team, Long played for Team Tennessee this past summer. Made up of the top underclassmen in the Volunteer State as selected by the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association, they participated in the prestigious Sunbelt Classic in Oklahoma.
Team Tennessee alumni include Tony Kemp, a former SEC Player of the Year at Vanderbilt and currently an outfielder for the World Series champion Houston Astros.
Long is just one of a handful of Crockett players to have ever played on Team Tennessee. Others who have made the cut include Clinton Freeman, who played at ETSU and later in the Dodgers organization, and Chris Marti, who transferred his senior year to Oklahoma.
Long believes the experience of playing with many of the guys who have committed to schools like Tennessee, Auburn and Duke, was a great tool to prepare him for college baseball.
“It was a great experience because I go in not knowing anybody and I come out talking to those guys even now,” Long said. “It’s a bond you can’t really break. It was good to get to know them and to play with the best players in Tennessee.”
Hagy mentioned Long’s humility and what he brings to the school outside of baseball. He’s an honor student who plans on studying mechanical engineering at Tech. His signing was attended with as many friends not involved in baseball as teammates.
“You see the turnout with his friends who aren’t athletes and he’s a great kid to have in the building,” Hagy said. “There’s not a hard worker than Will Long. He has worked hard to get where he’s at and deserves everything that has happened to him.”