FLORENCE, Ala. — Joe Long is a big guy with a big smile who doesn’t like to make a big deal in public unless he is on a football field.
His brother Jake Long is the same way, but he always makes a big splash when he is on or off a football field. The difference is Jake Long was bigger and stronger when he left high school and got a scholarship to the University of Michigan which led to a career with the Miami Dolphins. Joe Long plays left tackle for the Wayne State road Warriors.
You’ve heard Jake Long’s story. You might not have heard Joe’s because of where he’s played. It has been my pleasure to present the story of the small guy all this week in The Detroit News as Wayne State tried to win its first Division II football title in history. I’ve been behind the scenes with the Warriors (11-3) as they prepare for their game against Pittsburg State, a once beaten team south of Kansas City, Kansas.
Wayne State is an underdog again, but that is not at the heart of this story. It is about a bunch of guys who are a little smaller and slower than their Division I counterparts. They play in smaller stadiums against Ferris State and Northwood University, not Florida State and Northwestern University.
Therefore we do not present their story in newspaper, radio or television unless they do something spectacular like play for a national title. I’ve written about coach Paul Winters periodically the past eight seasons as he built this program from nothing into a national threat.
It was great getting to know people like Jeremy Jones, Josh Renel and Long. They have great stories behind their games. I invite you to follow them today on ESPN and at detnews.com as they play Pittsburg State. I will write about them after every quarter and will follow up with a game story and column at detnews.com.
It would be great if you can pass the word and have people read. High readership might prompt editors to give them more ink down the road. The road Warriors deserve it whether they are home or away, in a national championship game in Alabama or in a GLIAC game against Grand Valley.
Joe Long is not as talented as Jake Long. But he works just as hard.