At first glance, Malcolm Long is not your prototypical quarterback.
He is not going to scramble for a 40- or 50-yard run. At 6-foot-3 and 257 pounds, he looks more like a tight end.
But he knows how to win games. South Carolina's Mr. Football in 2006 after leading Gaffney to Class 4A Division I championships in 2005 and 2006, last season he led South Carolina State to a 10-3 record and the FCS playoffs for the first time in 26 years.
"He is not what college football is looking for today (in a quarterback)," Bulldogs coach Buddy Pough said. "He's not the athletic style guy that you see all over the college game today. I like this guy for what he does and that puts us in position to win games."
Long has been instrumental in South Carolina State's 3-0 start this season as the Bulldogs try to defend their MEAC championship. He has completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 523 yards with four touchdowns and only one interception for an offense that comes into tonight's game at South Carolina averaging 28 points per game.
For as long as he can remember, Long has been a quarterback. After everything he accomplished at Gaffney, the talk around the state was about his lack of Division I offers. Most big-time programs saw a player that would have to move to another position.
But that is not an option Long considered. He chose the Bulldogs because Pough guaranteed him a chance to compete for the quarterback job.
"I'm happy where I'm at," Long said. "There is no other place I would like to play. We want to compete for a national championship. and I know we can do that here."
Pough was happy FBS programs passed on Long. But even he is surprised at the type of quarterback Long has become in his second year as a starter.
"I thought I knew what kind of player and student of the game he was from the moment he got here," Pough said. "He is the kind of quarterback like they were back in the old days where they have to call the plays. For that reason, he has done a good job understanding our checks and combinations.
"He enjoys seeing what the defense is in and calling the plays from that. The more you put on him mentally, the more he enjoys the game."
Last season, Long set school records for completions (172) and yardage (1,988 yards) He was sacked only eight times, but he seldom takes off and runs.
"He understands when to get rid of the ball and he understands protection," Pough said. "He doesn't stand there and hold the ball when the defense sends more people than we can block. He runs the right plays at the right time and he doesn't make silly mistakes that come back and haunt us."
Long said he hears the whispers about his lack of athletic ability, but he feels he has other intangibles.
"I go out and play football and having fun is my main focus," Long said. "I have athletic ability but being a quarterback you have to know the game. That means making the right decisions to put your team in position to win. I feel like I do it OK, but I can get better."