ATHENS — Marshall Long’s college football career is sidelined — again.
The third-year punter from China Grove, N.C., announced via Instagram on Thursday that he has had another knee surgery. This will be the third such recovery for Long, who signed with the Bulldogs as a 3-star prospect and was considered one of the top punters in the nation. He did not say whether this latest setback will end his football career.
Long redshirted last season after serving as Georgia’s starting punter for most of his freshman season in 2016. He has a career punting average of 38.7 yards. Graduate transfer Cameron Nizalek won the job last season and averaged 45.0 yards on 61 punts.
Long’s medical procedure explains some of the Bulldogs’ recent moves. Georgia last week accepted the graduate transfer of former Murray State punter Landon Stratton. Georgia also signed Jake Camarda of Norcross in the 2018 recruiting class. Camarda is considered the No. 1 kicker/punter in the country, according to the Kohl’s kicker ratings. He’s rated a 3-star prospect and the No. 2 punter in America by 247Sports.com.
It’s unusual for any Power 5 team to have three specialists on scholarship. Long could apply for and likely would be granted a medical disqualification from the NCAA if he chooses to pursue it.
Long tried to make a go of it this spring. He punted three times for the Red squad in the G-Day game but averaged only 35.3 yards. Georgia used two other punters in the intrasquad scrimmage as walk-ons Bill Rubright (37.3 yards) and Michael D’Angola (37.0) handled punts for the Black team.
Long’s injuries have taken a toll on him mentally and physically, as his Instagram post details:
Ever since my second knee surgery my freshman year in Athens, I’ve gone through dark times that have shown me depression and times where I felt there was no hope. My first instinct was to turn to worldly things that I might hopefully find peace and comfort, whether it was people, a weight room, or a party. While that gave me temporary relief, it would eventually fade. Within a week I had seen a failed relationship, really bad food poisoning(never eating at niche in Tate center again), a wrecked truck, and discovery of a third knee surgery that I needed. My heart was torn into what felt like 1000 pieces. I instantly started to blame God(who I wasn’t so sure was real or not). I felt this void in my heart that I can’t even begin to explain the pain and hurt it made me feel. I spent hours begging God if he was real to show me himself and his love that I desperately needed… and that’s exactly what he did! And in what felt like the darkest time in my life I’ve ever experienced, he poured his undeserving love out to me. A love and peace that I had never felt before. God began showing himself to me daily, to the point I would laugh because I knew it was God looking down saying “bro I told you I was real”. I thank God everyday he showed me those dark and tough days, so I would realize life wasn’t meant for me to go through alone and I needed him. I didn’t write all this in an effort to brag or just waste time typing, but to hopefully inspire and show someone who is in a tough and dark spot in life, that God wants to be there with you, and that dark times don’t have to be dark at all, they can be some of the most peaceful times in your life. While I’m far from perfect, I’m glad I found comfort in a perfect God and his perfect love. Now on to knee surgery recovery #3!