Mount Olive Jr. Marauder Selected to Take Part in Football Combine

By Steve Sears

Mount Olive Jr. Marauder President, John McBride, remembers the play vividly.

It’s highlight reel stuff.

“In the championship game last year,” McBride says, “he was back at quarterback. He had a snap that went over his head, and he picked up the snap at his own end zone. It looked like it was going to be a safety for the other team, but he reversed field and took the ball back 100 yards to score a touchdown.”

McBride speaks about Mount Olive’s 14-year-old Brayden Longo, who has been selected to take part in the National Middle School Combine in Dallas, Texas from December 15 through December 19, 2022. Afterwards, he and his family will attend the US Army bowl, which features college All-Americans. 

“Thanks to coach John McBride, I was one of the players selected to take part in this event,” Longo says. “When I found out after my parents, I was thrilled, actually. I was also very shocked to be accepted into this. It’s a really big thing for me.”

Longo is one of 22 running backs throughout the nation to be selected. The greatest middle school players from across the country will visit the combine for a week at the Dallas Cowboys training facility, where they’ll be tested by taking part in various drills and interviews. “It’s like the National Football League,” McBride says. “It’s like when the NFL prospects go to Indianapolis every winter. Same thing, except it’s a younger age group.”

“There’s going to be football IQ testing in the classroom with the NFL coaches and college coaches,” Longo says of the upcoming combine. “There’s going to be positional breakouts in classroom, and I think individual breakouts with each of our roles. There’s also going to be an athlete evaluation.” All results will go to a collegiate football database, which is important. College football and future NFL stars have been discovered and developed further when taking part in combines, so attendees this December will be watched closely as they move up the football ranks.

“Brayden has been in our football program since he was seven-years-old as a flag player,” McBride adds about Longo. “He’s one of if not the greatest football player that has come through the program in the 65-year history of the Junior Marauders. He broke a single season Mount Olive touchdown record last year; he scored 30 total touchdowns on the way to leading his team to a second straight undefeated season and the league championship. He wants it more than anyone else out there. He’s super competitive, he’s laser focused, and he’s just an animal on the field. He’s a man amongst boys. He is also a safety on defense. He’s incredible on every side of the ball.”

Keith Koller and the Junior Marauder coaching staff, who have supported Brayden and his teammates, in 2022 are seeking a three peat. 

Jodi Longo, Brayden’s mom, is also impressed with her son’s on-field maturity. “He’s constantly talking to and helping his teammates,” she says proudly. “I was very surprised when I noticed a year or two ago, and even last year, him doing that. He’s very mature as an athlete.”

Brayden speaks about that maturity as well. “I think that I bring leadership. I don’t let anyone down, and I’m especially grateful for my opportunity to be able to get to this point. I’m very aggressive and competitive as well and, most importantly, I know how to deal with trash talkers – people trying to get inside of my head. I let my pads do the talking.”

“He’s a tremendous athlete. I played college baseball and semi-professional baseball, and think he’s a much better athlete than I was at the time,” says Frank Longo, Brayden’s dad. “Like my wife said, he’s very mature, he works hard in practice, he gives it his all. You never question his work ethic or the effort he brings to each game. He’s a pleasure to watch; he’s just a talented young man.”

As for his future goals, Brayden – who says his favorite players are Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry and San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Beebo Samuel – looks forward to bringing his talent to the field for Mount Olive High School, and then hopefully to a Division One college team and, eventually, the National Football League. 

 

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