Maryland wide receiver Deon Long entered his Wednesday’s practice having already committed two offside penalties the first two days of practice, one of which got him benched during an 11-on-11 drills Tuesday.
“Deon’s got to get a lot better. I’m not happy with the way Deon is practicing right now,” Maryland Coach Randy Edsall said before Wednesday’s session. “He’s got to do a better job of finishing on every play, and he’s got to be more exact with everything that he’s doing.”
Long didn’t need a conversation with Edsall after the first two days to evaluate his play. The former Dunbar standout could already tell by his coach’s facial expressions that he needed to pick it up. Like so many of his teammates, he missed much of last season with an injury – he broke his leg the same game Stefon Diggs did against Wake Forest – and the rehabilitation process was long.
Long said he and Diggs had “meditation sessions” during the offseason, where they discussed all the things they wanted to do on the field this season. He had Diggs’s and former Maryland player Ricardo Young’s names tattooed on his arms a few months ago he said, after he realized how big of role they played in his rehabilitation.
“Ricardo often brought us food, had pep talks with us, helped us wash up in the shower, put us in the shower, things like that. Wrapped my leg up with plastic so it wouldn’t get wet, stuff like that,” Long said. “It was tough, because you couldn’t move when you really wanted to move. Like, to go to the bathroom was just a hassle.”
The 6-foot, 185-pound Long could potentially be one of the team’s most electrifying players this fall. After putting up All-American numbers in junior college at Iowa Western two years ago, he burst onto the scene last fall with nine catches, 110 yards and a touchdown in the season opener against Florida International. He finished the season with 34 receptions and 15.3 yards per catch before his injury against Wake Forest.
Long said he felt he had a better practice on Wednesday as the Terps added shoulder pads. He didn’t make any splashy catches in 11-on-11 drills, but he looked lively coming off the line and didn’t make any notable mistakes like the two days prior.
There is no longer any traces of his leg injury, and at this point, thriving in camp is more mental than physical. He embraced Edsall’s comments from before the day started, adding that both know what is expected of him.
“He’s the type of coach who sees your potential, and knows how to tap into you and get the best out of you. So he’ll hold to high standards, and you need a coach like that because if he didn’t then he wouldn’t be doing his job. So he just wants to see me flying around more…and being more sharp, which I did today, so he’ll be satisfied.”