Come Sunday, Jerome Long will be celebrating.
The former San Diego State standout defensive tackle would prefer the gathering at his place signify his selection in the NFL Draft.
If not, he knows an undrafted free-agent contract is reason enough for revelry.
Former Cal Poly FCS All-America cornerback Asa Jackson is expected to be a mid- to late-round pick in the draft, which begins today at 5 p.m. and continues Friday and Saturday, and Long, a former Morro Bay High standout and all-Mountain West Conference lineman, could be selected late as well.
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“The first two days for me are probably not happening,” Long said, “but on Saturday, I’ll be with my agent just so he can help me handle things, and on Sunday I’m having a celebration party, whether I get drafted or free agent.”
San Diego-based sports agent Jim Miller, who represents Long, said he is confident the 6-foot-5, 290-pound lineman will be taken somewhere in the seven rounds of the NFL Draft. Miller said Long has had in-person meetings with representatives from the Denver Broncos and the Jacksonville Jaguars, the latter of which flew him to Florida for an interview.
Nearly a dozen teams, including the Oakland Raiders, are “in the mix” to woo Long as a free agent should he go undrafted, Miller said.
Long ranked second on the Aztecs in tackles (73), tackles for loss (8.0) and sacks (5.0) this past season, ranking second in the Mountain West among defensive lineman with 5.6 stops per game.
Those were all career-high numbers for a four-year contributor who saw his first action as a true freshman in the season opener against Cal Poly in 2008.
Since then — and, actually, going back 60 pounds ago to his days as a Pirate — Long has always played on the interior of the defensive line, but he said there is interest in moving him to the end.
“I’ve heard mostly end,” Long said, “but some teams have said they could see me playing any position on the D-line. I don’t really prefer any of them. I just want to play, you know? I definitely feel playing on the inside in college pretty much the entire time, I definitely see myself stronger as a run stopper, but I feel my pass rush technique is something I’m getting better at.”
Long is a math major on schedule to obtain his degree this spring without utilizing a redshirt season. He’s been preparing for the draft while attending classes and training with Nick Osborn, a former San Diego State linebacker who Long met through church.
Jackson also made his true freshman debut in that 2008 game between Cal Poly and San Diego State, grabbing his first of eight career interceptions. Jackson set a Division I program record with three interception returns for touchdowns, including both of his 2011 picks and one of 100 yards.
Jackson spent the offseason working out with a personal trainer in Arizona, returning to Cal Poly to perform in the Mustangs’ pro day last month. Jackson also took part in the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine, where he received face time with NFL representatives from all 32 teams.
Without receiving the prestigious invitations that Jackson earned, Long played in the lesser-known Casino Del Sol All-Star Game in Tuscon, Ariz., but he has been happy with the calls and attention he has received in his own right.
“It was encouraging to experience,” Long said of his recent meetings. “I stay level-headed, and I know I need to push myself more and more. But it’s good to see that I’m being recognized.”