After leading the nation’s tight ends in receiving yards (685) and receptions (57), redshirt junior Hunter Long has declared for the 2021 NFL Draft, which will be held in Cleveland, Ohio in late April. His 57 receptions this year are the second most by a tight end in Boston College single-season history, trailing only Pete Mitchell’s 66 receptions in 1993.
“I would like to start by thanking my family. Mom, Dad, Jessica and Hayley, you do not know how much your support has meant to me and how much it has helped me through the highs and lows of my career,” Long said in a release announcing his decision. “I would like to thank all of the coaches that have had a hand in molding the player that I have become. Two coaches I’d especially like to acknowledge are Coach Leonard and Coach Shimko, for I would not be here without your guidance and support.”
The Eagles announced last week that they would forgo bowl selection this year, meaning that Long capped off his breakout season with a 109-yard, one-touchdown performance against Virginia on Dec. 5. Had the Eagles participated in a bowl game, Long likely would have sat out, as most draft prospects do, to avoid injury.
“We could not be happier and more supportive of Hunter’s decision to enter the NFL Draft,” head coach Jeff Hafley said in the release. “Hunter has been a terrific ambassador on and off the field for our program, and we can’t wait to watch him play on Sundays.”
Long arrived on the Heights as a largely unheralded player. BC was the New Hampshire native’s only offer from a Power Five school, but Long has since proven that he is up to the challenge of ACC competition. Long was selected to the preseason watch list for the John Mackey Award—which honors the nation’s top tight end—and he was recently named a semifinalist for the award.
At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Long said that he had been in contact with former BC draft picks, including Sweeney and AJ Dillon, who was drafted at No. 62 overall last year, to talk about the draft process.
Looking back on his time playing under two different head coaches, Long said he was able to strengthen different skills.
“In my mind, I think I got the best of both worlds: a more run-heavy scheme where I’d have to put my nose in every block and develop as a better blocker … and then this year we definitely opened the playbook a little more and started throwing the ball,” Long said at the conference. “I feel in both systems I developed equally but in different aspects of my game.”
Long exploded onto the scene during the 2019 season, recording 28 receptions for 509 yards, more than four times his total from the year prior when he played backup to Tommy Sweeney. After his breakout second season, Long opted to return to BC along with fellow standouts Kobay White and Max Richardson, whose futures with BC were unclear at the time. Long finished his career at BC with 89 receptions for 1,297 yards and nine touchdowns.
“To my brothers at BC, I would not have wanted to play next to anyone else,” Long said. “The brotherhood we formed will last forever and I can’t wait to watch you all achieve greatness.”
Featured Image by Nell Redmond via ACC Media