Chris Long grew up a Seattle Seahawks fan in an Eagles household.
But during football season, Long still watched the Eagles every week with his father. He even began to admire a speedy wideout who rejoined the team this past offseason.
“My idol was DeSean Jackson,” said Long, a senior wide receiver at Willingboro. “I just liked his swag on the field, and I can see myself doing the things that he does.
“I always wanted my game to be just like his or better.”
Some might argue that Long is on that path.
A Temple recruit, Long became the owner of two records in Willingboro’s 43-0 victory over Cinnaminson last week. He holds records for receiving yards in a single season and for a career.
Long has 92 catches for 1,801 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns in his career. His 31 receptions for 846 yards and 10 scores have helped Willingboro start off 5-1 this season.
Junior quarterback Ah-Shaun Davis said he and Long have dreamed of breaking records since they started playing football together as 5-year-olds.
“When we were younger we used to go to the high school and watch the games, and we would always be like, ‘I want to be like him’ and 'I can’t wait to play on this field,’ ” Davis said. “Now, he’s the single-season and career leader in receiving yards, and that’s great. I’m proud of him.”
Even though Long has had a ton of success as a wideout in high school, he doesn’t plan to play on offense at Temple. A three-star recruit according to Rivals and 247Sports.com, he is set to play defensive back for the Owls.
Early into his recruitment, schools such as Ohio State, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech wanted Long to play defense instead of wide receiver. But he was reluctant to make that change.
Then, Temple assistant coach and co-defensive coordinator Fran Brown got into the picture. Brown was able to convince Long that making a change to the defensive side of the ball was best.
“I just trusted his word, to be honest,” said Long, who plans to enroll early at Temple. “And the stories that he told me, people were in the same situation as me. They played receiver and switched to DB. Now they’re in the [NFL]. So why not?”
Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tavon Young and New York Jets cornerback Nate Hairston are two players who went into Temple’s program and blossomed into NFL-ready defensive backs under Brown’s guidance.
But before Long committed to Temple and posted records at Willingboro, Chimeras coach Steve Everette noticed how special his skills were in middle school.
Everette, who helps with the Willingboro Panthers, a youth football program, challenged Long to play in the unlimited weight class instead of the 115-pounders.
Everette said he wanted Long to get a taste of playing better competition, and he excelled.
“He wasn’t the biggest kid, but he would just make plays,” Everette said. “He was doing things that a lot of seventh-graders don’t do in terms of catching the football.”
Long and Davis used to sit in the bleachers and watch high school games as kids with hopes of winning state championships. Last year, they won their own title.
The Chimeras are coming off the program’s first Central Group 1 championship since 1985. They have never won back-to-back titles in school history.
This season, the duo can change that.
“We’re coming for another one this year,” Long said.