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York-Adams football standouts commit to NCAA Division II power Slippery Rock on same day

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
  • Brayden Long and Savion Harrison committed to Slippery Rock University Monday.
  • Both players broke records during their senior high school seasons.
  • Slippery Rock made the NCAA Division II national semifinals in 2019.
York Suburban's Savion Harrison, left and New Oxford's Brayden Long pose for photos during their respective visits to Slippery Rock University. Both players committed to the school Monday after winning York-Adams League Division II and Division I Offensive Player of the Year awards, respectively, as seniors.

In 2019, York Suburban running back Savion Harrison, New Oxford quarterback Brayden Long and the Slippery Rock University football program had one thing in common — winning.

Harrison led the Trojans to their first undefeated regular season in six decades and broke program rushing records. Long guided the Colonials to a winning season and a District 3 playoff victory, while also eclipsing the Adams County career passing yards record. NCAA Division II Slippery Rock had a 13-1 campaign and lost in the national semifinals.

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Now, Harrison and Long have decided to join "The Rock" in an attempt to achieve their collective goal of winning a national title. Monday, the York-Adams standouts each announced his commitment to the western Pennsylvania school, located north of Pittsburgh and about 260 miles from York.

“As soon as I got done with the visit I knew it was the place for me,” Long said. “The family culture, the family atmosphere at Slippery Rock, and they want a national championship and I want to be a part of that. I want to help Slippery Rock University bring home a national championship.”

Building a bond: Harrison and Long met this summer when they played on a 7-on-7 team in a tournament at Penn State. They stayed in touch during the season and their talks intensified as The Rock’s pursuit of the pair increased.

Slippery Rock was after Harrison first. The 5-foot, 9-inch running back and defensive back started talking to coaches from the university in the summer.

One of the main factors in Harrison’s decision to join The Rock was the fact that the school had an interest in him before he rushed for 1,714 yards and scored 21 touchdowns as a senior.

“It meant a lot to me,” Harrison said. “It just showed the team believed in me before I even hit my peak. One thing that stood out to me from (Slippery Rock) was they showed a lot of love. They did home visits, they called my parents. My parents love the university. A lot of coaches say a lot of the same things and you don’t know if you can believe them or not, but when I touched down there, it was just different. Before I left the visit I just fell in love with everything they had going on there.”

Harrison will play defensive back at The Rock despite his stellar senior season in the backfield. Defensive back has always been his first love and after making the all-state team as a cornerback and Y-A Division II all-star teams the past three seasons for his defense.

“I still love playing defensive back,” Harrison said. “Running back was kind of like a second route for me, defensive back is where my heart has been. I told every coach I will play wherever they want me to play.” 

The right fit: Long had admired the season Slippery Rock had from afar this season as a fan of Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference football. On Dec. 19, he got a new Twitter follower — Slippery Rock offensive coordinator Adam Neugebauer. After a conversation with New Oxford coach Jason Warner, Long received a call that night with an offer that surprised and impressed him after the team had never seen him play.

Another factor that played into Long’s decision was the success of The Rock’s quarterback in 2019. Roland Rivers won the Harlon Hill award as the NCAA Division II Player of the Year after he threw for 4,460 yards and 52 touchdowns.

“That’s huge,” Long said. “Just knowing that he won that award, I know I’m going somewhere that I can be successful and work with the coaches to eventually become the next Harlon Hill (award winner) that comes out of Slippery Rock.”

Long held offers from NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision schools in Marist College and Central Connecticut State University after he threw for 2,576 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2019. While the lure of playing at a higher classification of football was there, when it came time to decide, Long said it was more about the right fit than the higher division.

“The level of play between Division I FCS and Slippery Rock is very, very similar,” Long said. “I’m not going to let the level that it’s classified as define it. Playing Division I football and having those offers is an honor, don’t get me wrong I was thankful for those, but I would take Slippery Rock football any day over an FCS program.”

Time to post: After the pair went on their respective visits last weekend, it became clear that Slippery Rock was at the top of the list for both players. Now, the only thing left to do was schedule their Twitter announcements.

“We talked when we were going to post our commitments,” Harrison said. “(Long) said he was going to post his later (Monday), I told him I’m going to post it earlier (Monday).”

With the college recruiting behind them, both players are excited for the future as they join forces to try to continue the winning they did this season. Harrison and Long are both happy to have a friend going with them as they travel to a new part of the state and begin the next phase of their lives. 

“It’s great that now I know I’m not out there on the western side of Pennsylvania alone,” Harrison said. “It’s great having someone I played with, someone that I know (committed) there.” 

Just getting started: As the friends join their new family, Long looks forward to the next phase of his football career and continuing the success that he had during his senior season.

The 2019 season was a winning one for Long, Harrison and The Rock, and they don’t plan on the next four years being any different.

“This year that we had on the field was amazing, making the step up and really turning the program around,” Long said. “That was just the start of what’s to come for my college career. The most important thing to me and the coaching staff at Slippery Rock is to win a national championship and I’m going to do my best every day to try to provide us with that.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.