Popular Arizona State quarterback Ethan Long now looking for playing time elsewhere

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Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Ethan Long (7) runs with the ball against Kent State in the first half during a game at Sun Devil Stadium on Aug. 29, 2019 in Tempe, Ariz.
Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Ethan Long (7) runs with the ball against Kent State in the first half during a game at Sun Devil Stadium on Aug. 29, 2019 in Tempe, Ariz.

Ethan Long came to Arizona State in 2019 to fight for the starting quarterback spot. He was dubbed "Captain America" by head coach Herm Edwards for his versatility, work ethic and All-American appeal. He was first player in program history to bear the team captain label as a true freshman.

But now "Captain America" is heading elsewhere.

Long, whose only snaps the last two years have come on special teams, put his name in the transfer portal this week, seeking a chance to get back on the field in an integral role, something he misses.

He has two years of eligibility left and wants to play quarterback, although he is listed in the portal as a tight end.

"It just comes down to wanting to get out there and make the most of the two years I have left in my athletic career. I want to get out there and just have fun," he said. "I have enjoyed my time here and I love my teammates and the relationships I have built so I don't regret the time I spent here."

Players come and go, with the transfer portal altering the dynamic of college athletics. Changes of scenery typically come down to playing time or a coaching change and it's not always an amicable parting of the ways.

But Long is not the typical transfer, bitter about not getting enough playing time. It's more his nature to be appreciative of what he got out of the experience.

Long did not leave earlier because of the family he had in the area. The family maintained a dual residence, their home base being in Dolores, Colorado. They also had a place locally with Long's sister Makayla a standout athlete at Perry High School and older brother Seth part of the football team at Northern Arizona.

Long's maternal grandparents live in Scottsdale.

But now Makayla is off to Baylor where she is competing in track. Seth's playing days are over although he still is at NAU, having applied for physical therapy school. Mother Suzanne has moved back to Colorado. So now is the right time for Ethan to transfer.

"We had great family times here and I valued all of that time we had together," he said. "If me not playing as much as I wanted was something I had to sacrifice, it was worth it. I'll go somewhere else and we're all kind of getting on with our lives so we probably won't have that much time together again."

Long came to ASU as one of three newcomers in the quarterback room along with Jayden Daniels, who emerged as the starter, and Joey Yellen, who later transferred to Pitt. Dillon Sterling-Cole, the backup to previous starter Manny Wilkins, was also in the mix.

Long might have been fourth on the depth chart but was used in some offensive packages because of his versatility, which was some consolation.

Arizona State quarterback Ethan Long (7) during the spring practice game on Feb. 28, 2019 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
Arizona State quarterback Ethan Long (7) during the spring practice game on Feb. 28, 2019 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.

That role virtually disappeared the following year. He got some time at halfback and tight end as well as on special teams coverage units but that was reserved for the practice field.

Long said previous defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales often tried to coax him to that side of the ball as Tillman safety, but he preferred offense.

Asked if he thinks he got a fair shot at the quarterback spot, Long said yes but the turnover in offensive coordinators from Rob Likens to Zak Hill didn't help him.

"Nothing against coach Hill, but I wasn't his guy and that's fine. I know that's the way it is most of the time with a new coach," he said. "I just felt like I was never going to be in the mix after that change."

It wasn't until Daniels and Bourguet both came down with COVID-19 last fall during ASU's pandemic pause that Long was moved back to the quarterback room, just for depth purposes.

"He added a level of maturity to the room and he's just one of those guys that can bring everybody together and never complained about not having more of a chance to play.," said Bourguet, also one of Long's roommates.

This season Long played every game in a lesser role as holder on special teams. The Sun Devils ended up with a void there when punter Michael Turk transferred to Oklahoma. Long snapper Gage King is another of Long's roommates and the two often practiced on their own.

When the need for holder came up, King spoke up on Long's behalf.

For now it will be a waiting game for Long. Because he hasn't played the position in two years he won't be the most coveted transfer at that position. He has heard from some coaches already, but many were ones who recruited him out of high school so there was an existing relationship.

Unlike former teammates DeaMonte "Chip" Trayanum, Johnny Wilson and Tommi Hill, who found new homes right away, Long knows he'll probably have to wait until late April or early summer after schools wrap up spring drills and have a chance to reassess their rosters, with another wave of athletes entering the portal at that time.

Long, who will have a degree in integrative health in May, says he'd prefer a school on the West Coast or in the Midwest but isn't ruling anything out.

"Like everyone else I had a little bit of an ego coming out of high school and I wanted to play at a Power 5 school," he said. "But now it's about just getting the chance to play and finding a spot where the coach doesn't already have his guy."

Bourguet has no doubt Long will succeed. The two have a whiteboard in their home and often diagram plays and talk defensive dynamics. Long also thinks his playing time at other positions, even if just in practice, will help help him.

"He's a quarterback at heart, Bourguet said. "We go out and throw all the time and he can still throw it. He has a good football IQ so I don't think he'll have trouble making that move back there. Like they say, you can take a bear out of the woods but you can't take the woods out of the bear."

Reach the reporter at Michelle.Gardner@gannett.com or 602 444-4783. Follow her on Twitter @MGardnerSports.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona State QB Ethan Long now looking for playing time elsewhere