Clip courtesy UTEP Communications
Greg Long relishes the opportunity to take the field this fall as part of the UTEP football team.
The redshirt junior’s excitement is not solely based on the fact that he is expected to be a lynchpin for the Miners’ stout offensive line. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound offensive tackle also is eager to bounce back from injuries that kept him off the field last season and for most of the 2017 campaign.
But those are not the only physical hardships he has had to overcome. Long was born premature and began life afflicted by a host of blood and respiratory issues.
“I wasn’t a kid that was supposed to play football,” Long said. “No one was expecting me to do this. I had a lot of health problems growing up. But I was able to overcome that adversity. Now, I look forward to this upcoming season. I hope to earn All-Conference honors.”
Those lofty goals are certainly attainable. Long was named to the 2016 All-Conference USA freshman team and was listed as a first-team selection on Phil Steele’s 2017 Preseason All-C-USA squad. The potential to return to that form exists because of a diligent work ethic, a commitment to enhancing his skill-set and a positive outlook. Long said his achievements also have been attainable because of the Miner Athletic Club.
“Receiving a scholarship has given me a chance to do things that a lot of people didn’t think I could,” Long said. “Growing up, academics was something that I was not very in tune with. But after coming to UTEP and having someone take a chance on me, it has helped me realize that there is more out there for me.”
Long said the first time he realized he could play college football was during his junior year at Eastwood High School in El Paso. His offensive line coach informed him of his potential and urged him to perform the work necessary to fulfill that goal. Long’s undertaking was aided by the Troopers’ coaching staff submitting film to schools on his behalf. When UTEP offered a chance to play in his hometown, he could not pass it up.
“To represent the Miners in my hometown means everything to me,” Long said. “I get to give back to my community and have my family and friends come support me.”
UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel said Long has been an inspiring presence throughout his recovery process and will be a vital component of the Miner offense this season.
“Greg has been an inspiration to all of us because of the adversity he has had to overcome,” Dimel said. “He brings a really positive attitude to work and handles himself well on and off the field. He’s a strong ambassador for our program.”
When his academic journey is complete, the criminal justice major hopes to work for the Department of Homeland Security. He wants to eventually lead a narcotics team. But before that, he aspires to propel UTEP to a successful season.
“I hope to help lead the Miners to a bowl game victory and I also hope to lead us to a championship,” Long said.
Author: Pablo Villa – UTEP Communications | Video by UTEP Communications
Creating Champions: This is the second article in a series about UTEP student-athletes who share their unique stories and how athletic scholarships have made a difference in their lives. Each of these students reflects on the value of their UTEP experiences and the opportunities they create for the future. Visit minerathleticclub.com to learn more about the Creating Champions campaign.