Jakobi Long likes to watch highlights.
Every week, it’s Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Julio Jones and others. The Shaw wide receiver watches them and marvels at what they’re able to do.
Long doesn’t have the physical abilities of those players, but, then again, who does? At 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, Long runs a 4.7 40-yard dash and doesn’t quite have the vertical leap of some of his counterparts.
Still, he is able to do more with less, helping the Shaw offense to great success over the past two years.
“Some recruiters see his film, like him and when he comes out the door, they ask if it’s the same guy,” Raiders coach Kyle Adkins said. “He doesn’t look in the halls like he does on film. He’s not necessarily one you pick out of a lineup, but when you come out here and see him in the pads, he can do some things.”
After suffering through injuries as a sophomore, Long became a regular during the 2012 season in which the Shaw passing game was one of the best in the area. When some of the senior receivers started getting more attention from defenses, things opened up for Long and he was able to have a solid season. At times, though, Adkins felt like his receiver got lost in the shuffle.
“We had some good senior receivers, and, at times, I feel like he kind of got lost in the mix,” Adkins said.
Long took that as a challenge. While he may lack some of the natural physical abilities of some wide receivers, he could still learn more about how to beat defenses.
Which goes back to studying some of the top wide receivers in the NFL. Long understands those players have freakish physical abilities, but he said he watches what they do and tries to take pieces of their game to apply to his own.
“I watch a lot of highlights from them,” he said. “I first started watching Julio Jones. He’s fast, has good hands. And Calvin Johnson, he’s just going to go up and catch the ball.”
It’s something Adkins and other coaches have taken notice of.
“He’s starting to become a little bit more of a student of the game,” Adkins said. “He’s not going to be able to get behind everybody, so he’s got to look at leverage and he’s got to look at hips and he’s got to stay in and watch film. He’s got to do all those things if he wants to take his game to the next level.”
The next stage of the development is turning those real solid performances into a consistent week-to-week practice.
“Just trying to find that consistency,” Adkins answered when asked what the key to Long’s progress was. “Some games last year, he was real big for us. Then there were a couple where he was almost nonexistent. So, we’re just trying to find some consistency for him.”
So far, so good.
He caught seven passes in a loss to Carver and then, in Shaw’s win over Hardaway, only caught two passes, but both were for big gains.
“I just have to keep getting more consistent catching the ball,” Long said. “Right now, I’m feeling great.”
So are his teammates, who recognize the impact he can make on a game.
“He’s the best wide receiver in the area,” linebacker Jacorey Butler said.
That’s high praise from a defender. If Long can live up to that, Shaw will be in great hands going forward.
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