The term quarterback has become synonymous with words like leader, director, commander and frontman. Quarterbacks are always the top discourse about a football team. They are often the first to receive praise for victories or criticism in defeats.
At the quarterback position, you have certain responsibilities. As someone who touches the ball every single play on offense, you must maintain consistency and the team is always looking to you for leadership despite having many jobs.
It’s not just a benefit to be a jack of all trades, it’s a requirement to be successful.
Keeping strong relationships with your offensive unit and the whole team reaps benefits for any football team. Those ideas are something Brayden Long has embraced early in his Slippery Rock football career.
“You see it on the field and a lot of what we do on the field starts off the field,” Long said. “We have a connection beyond football, it’s not always football conversations. We’re friends off the field. It’s a very close-knit group. Not just offensively, as a whole team.”
Long learned a lot about what it means to be a quarterback from last year’s starter, Noah Grover.
“Me and [Grover] were very close on and off the field. I got to learn a lot from him about football and life in general,” Long said.
The transfer of knowledge between the two undoubtedly helped Long hone his skills as a player and as a teammate which have brought success so far in the 2023 season.
“Brayden Long continues to just keep getting better,” Slippery Rock coach Shawn Lutz said.
Long came into an offense that likes to throw the ball. Grover had multiple 400-yard passing games during his tenure. While they are running the ball well too, the passing game is a necessity for Slippery Rock football’s success.
“He’s been patient. We’ve allowed him to understand you don’t have to be perfect and let it rip,” Lutz said. “He’s got to keep slinging the ball like he’s used too because he’s so smart and intelligent.”
Long has responded to being an immediate focal point in the offense by leading the PSAC in passing touchdowns and holding second in yards all while throwing only one interception through five games.
The White and Green are also 5-0 in that span.
In their most recent game, they took down their biggest rival Indiana University (Pa.), 42-21. The excitement was obvious.
“This past weekend was special to me,” Long said.
The energy is evident as well, and Long’s sentiment is shared. After wins, the tunnel is shaking with music from the locker room.
The team has taken to each other, and it has brought plenty of benefits. The Rock is undefeated thus far and currently ranked #10 nationally in Division II by the American Football Coaches Association poll.
The development of this current team’s relationships was strengthened this spring when Long first took the helm as the starting quarterback.
“When we would be up very early in the morning to get our work in and then do extra stuff on our own, off the football field too. Building a strong relationship with those guys, it’s really rewarding to see it pay off now and only continue to grow stronger as we go throughout the season,” Long said,
The bond he shares with coaches and players has created a shared trust between all.
“The whole offensive staff in general, the trust they place in me translates to my game and helps me play more confidently,” Long said.
Chemistry is necessary for winning football teams. Any team you see lift the Lombardi Trophy plays with each other effectively in all three phases.
“We talk about it all the time, playing complementary football,” Long said. “When the offense isn’t playing as well, our defense has stepped up for us and vice versa.”
It is clear Long has put plenty of time and effort into both developing his craft and his relationships with his teammates, but Long’s football development began quite early in his life.
“My dad played football. He played in college and he was always coaching when I was young so I was always around the game,” Long said. “I would always be putting all the replica uniforms on and replica helmets on, going out and using my imagination.”
That’s how it often starts for athletes. You start learning early and it just becomes a lifestyle. Long is happy with that lifestyle and no matter what his future holds, he will never lose his love of the game.
“It’s important to remember that football is a fun game. You can get caught up in the heat of the moment but that’s what I go back on a lot. Football is supposed to be fun and that’s why you play the game,” Long said.