Breathitt's William Long commits...

Graphic: Chandler Richards, FBU

Long says he's relieved to be able to focus on Breathitt County and helping the Bobcats achieve its playoff goals

William Long, a fixture along the offensive and defensive fronts for Breathitt County High School the last two years, and someone who has made 44-consecutive varsity starts in a high school career in both 4A (25-starts at Hopkinsville) and 2A (19-starts at Breathitt), has made it official. He has committed to play collegiately at Centre College. Centre is a NCAA, Division 3 school located in Danville, Kentucky.

Centre has quite the football history. The 1921 Praying Colonels went 10-1 and 5-0 in the SIAA and own one of college football’s most storied upsets. 

The ’21 Colonels, also called The Wonder Team, defeated Harvard 6-0 for an upset considered one of the most daunting in history. Centre’s winning that game is still considered one of a trio of upsets which signaled the changing competitive balance of power in the sport. 

Centre College is likewise known for its raft of esteemed alumni. In 1903, former President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, not yet President when this quote was attributed to him, said of Centre that “…there is a college down in Kentucky which has graduated more prominent men than has Princeton in her 150-years.” 

That must have been a bitter pill for Wilson to swallow, his being a prominent alumnus of Princeton himself (Class of 1879). The former president played football for Princeton, then known as the “College of New Jersey.” 

Centre College ranks among the top-50 liberal arts schools in America according to the publication, U.S. News. It also boasts a top-15 ranking, according to Forbes Magazine, among all colleges or universities in the South where it has been so ranked for seven consecutive years. Centre College is included among the country's Colleges That Change Lives. 

In committing to Centre College, Long has spurned offers from schools at every level of competition. By every level, we include Division 1 programs, some of which have already offered with several more indicating Long was “on the board” and likely to be offered as National Signing Day drew nearer. 

Long, a 3-star prospect from a national recruiting service (Red Zone Prospects) enjoys a commonwealth reputation as being one of Kentucky’s best high school football players in its ’21 graduating class. Red Zone Prospects employs, for purposes of evaluating prospects, a panel of former or present NFL executives and former NFL players. That body opined, in April of 2020, that Long was a “solid," Division 1, FCS-level player.  

In gaining a commitment from Long, Centre college has landed one of its first offers extended in Long’s graduating in-state class and one of its top identified targets. Centre has recruited Long to play along its interior defensive front where most of the other schools recruiting him also would have deployed him.  

In committing to Centre, Long has decided to pursue a degree at Kentucky’s most prestigious and highest regarded academic institution. Centre regularly competes for both national and conference championships, in football, at its level of play. 

We reached the two-time first-team all-stater (Associated Press) and two-time Kentucky powerlifting champion for comment. Long told us, “When my family and I sat down at the beginning of this journey to decide on a plan going forward with football I was only a seventh-grader. We identified certain criteria we wanted to prioritize throughout the process.” 

Long continued, “The criteria, in order, was to gain admission and funding to attend a prestigious academic institution where I could earn a degree which would stake me to a competitive advantage in the job market as an adult and to go somewhere the team’s expectation was to compete at both a national and conference championship level. My family and I are satisfied Centre College embodies both criteria.”

When asked about early playing time, Long said, “Listen, Centre College has recruited extremely well. I recognize many of the players on its present roster and have spent a lot of time in high school looking up to them as I came through the ranks. Centre has a bunch of in-state kids who were among the more highly decorated prep football players in their respective graduating classes. I am not as knowledgeable about the out of state guys but I am willing to wager they are the same caliber as our in state guys.”

“There is no guarantee I see the field early or ever. I better show up in top-condition ready to contribute or I will get buried on the Colonels’ depth-chart.”

Long concluded, “Playing time is something a player controls. To play, you have to make yourself someone without whom the team can’t function optimally. If you do that, you will play.”

NCAA regulations prevent a college coach from publicizing any commentary about a prospect until after National Signing Day, and then only about those players that particular school signs. Therefore, no one from Centre’s staff was at liberty to contribute to this article.

However, we did reach out to some high school football “experts” around Kentucky and asked what they thought of this commitment, and Long particularly. Here is what some of them had to say… 

“The Colonels will be getting a player who is very strong and explosive and a young man who possesses an excellent work ethic and is an excellent student.” Kyle Moore, Head Football Coach and Director of Athletics at Breathitt County High School

"The Colonels are getting a player who is willing to do whatever the team needs him to do. The type of player they are getting has been well documented. But it is the type of person they are getting that will have the biggest impact. William is a great kid. He understands the game is bigger than himself, and is always trying to give back. William is a great role mode for the youth in this county, and will be an incredible ambassador for the Colonels." Casey Allen, Assistant Football Coach (OL/DL) Breathitt County High School. 

“Centre is getting a versatile player who could be a star on either side of the ball for their program. Will is arguably the best offensive center in Kentucky and one of the best defensive lineman in the state. I believe he will make an impact on that program.” J.T. Powell, Director, Appalachia Prep Combine.  

"In William Long, Centre College is getting the text-book definition of a student athlete. William, a Kentucky Future Star alumnus, has D1 talent and skills with an ivy-league index brain. More importantly, the former Team Kentuckian will transcend barriers and unite communities from all walks of life with his passion and personality. #Brotherhood is proud today!" Ricco Hughes, Director, Team Kentucky Future Stars

Centre boasts among its graduates many notable sports figures. Among the proud former Colonels are icons like EA Diddle, legendary WKU and NCAA basketball coach who played both football and basketball at Centre; Cawood Ledford, who should need no introduction to Kentucky fans; and Homer Rice. 

Rice after playing football at Centre, is credited with having developed the “triple-option offense.” Rice was the head football coach at the University of Cincinnati, Rice University, and for the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals before serving as the Athletic Director at UNC, Rice, and Georgia Tech. 

William Long said it was a relief to get this decision behind him. “Now I can fully focus on this upcoming playoff run and doing my part to push Breathitt County toward its post-season goals. Let’s go Bobcats!” 

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