Fullerton College 5-Star Defensive Tackle Gabe Long has finally decided to go public with his verbal commitment to the University of Arizona.
"I am committed to Arizona," said Long. "I called Coach (Mike) Tuiasosopo a couple of weeks ago and told him that I wanted to go to Arizona and he was really excited. He was very excited, he was basically jumping for joy on the phone. He just kept going and going it was great."
Long decided that Arizona was the place he really wanted to be once he got to know defensive tackles coach Mike Tuiasosopo on a personal level.
"One thing that I found out is that Tui is my girlfriend's dad's best friend basically," he said. "One day we were looking at old pictures in an album and I saw a picture of him in college and I said, 'hey I know that guy' and they filled me on on the rest. Since I found that out Tui and I have gotten to know each other on a much more personal level and we have developed a real good relationship."
Another thing that worked in Arizona's favor was one of Long's long time close friends, walk on defensive tackle John Markovic.
"I have been down there a few times to see John and when I told that I was coming to Arizona too he said, 'man it is about time'," Long said with a laugh. "John was excited to hear that I am coming. I plan on signing and then I will be moving there some time in January."
A couple of weeks ago Long got a chance to sit down and have lunch with Arizona Defensive Coordinator Mark Stoops and Long told the D-Coord the good news then.
"After I told him he was really excited too," said Long. "We had a good lunch and we talked about the program and he was excited."
Throughout the process Long has gotten to know a little more about the Arizona program and where it is headed under Mike Stoops.
"I am really excited for the future of Arizona Football," he said. "I respect what Coach Stoops has done as a coach and he has a really good thing going down there. I want to be a part of it. On a personal side, Coach Stoops really cares about the individual and not just the football player. He wants me to succeed and me a good person on and off the field. He doesn't look at me as a piece of meat or anything, he cares about me as a person and that means a lot."
Since Long has not played football in over a year he has had to keep in shape on his own and he said that he has been committed to staying strong.
"I workout everyday," he said. "I lift a lot and I have been playing a lot of racquetball believe it or not. I didn't think it would be a fun game to play but it really helps your coordination and everything. I have kept in pretty good shape though. Maybe not football shape but I will do that when I get to Tucson in January."
Long is the Arizona Wildcats' first 5-Star commitment for the 2006 class. He made a visit to Tucson a couple of weeks ago and got to know another 5-Star JUCO prospect that is strongly considering Arizona, Louis Holmes.
"Louis is a real good guy," he said. "We kind of made a deal that we would go to the same school. I know he is going to announce on Thursday or something but it would be great to play with him. He is a great football player and a real good guy. He told me he knows where he is going so I guess we will all find out on Thursday."
Long plans on living with his friend, Markovic, when he finally makes it to Tucson in early January.