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'This is what I came back for' | Springfield alum Tyler Long providing lift for Rockets after return from injury

The junior offensive lineman missed all of the 2022 season with a broken ankle. He has started both of Toledo's games this year at right guard.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo football heads into Week 3 of its schedule with a home matchup against San Jose State on Saturday. In the Rockets home opener, they won 71-3, marking the third-highest mark for points scored in program history.

One of the playmakers responsible for that output is Tyler Long. His role is to provide protection and paths for his teammates but Long's presence alone has proved a big lift for not only UToledo but himself. 

"It helped me realize it can be taken away from you any minute, any second," the junior offensive lineman said.

Prior to the 2022 season, Long tore ligaments in his left leg and also dislocated his ankle, forcing him to be sidelined for the entire year which proved difficult.

"It took a toll on my mental health, it's not really physical," Long said. "Yeah you're rehabbing and all that but just not being able to be out there, even in the winter not being able to be with your brothers took a toll."

Following graduation from Springfield High School in 2018, he played in 24 games before the injury. Yet, the two-time academic All-American possessed a drive to return to the field and it paid off.

"I remember sitting there, looking at the scoreboard and hearing that crowd," Long said. "This is what I came back for."

Starting at right guard against Illinois on Sept. 2, he nearly helped the Rockets pull off an upset win. Even more impressive is the fact he played the whole game.

"Felt great after that game too, he's a tough hombre and he's a warrior," Toledo head coach Jason Candle said. "Third or fourth series I ask how he feels and he's just staring a hole through me, a 'you're not taking me out' type of mentality. Really worked hard for that moment and glad to have him, really look forward to a great year for him."

The following week at home, his unit helped light up the Glass Bowl scoreboard. Toledo set a new program record with 50 points scored in the first half versus Texas Southern.

Long believes that production can be replicated and lead to a special 2023 campaign.

"Puts that picture out there that we're ready to go and we're ready to roll against anybody," Long said.

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