Unique monikers add spice to college football recruiting trail
QB Thor Long among short list of creatively-named college recruits this year
Long threw for 33 touchdowns as a senior at Sherman (Texas) High
Defensive end God's Power Offor plans to sign with Wake Forest in February
I picked up the ringing BlackBerry on Monday night and pressed the green key.
"This is Thor," the voice on the other end of the line said.
Of course it was.
While the writers from the major recruiting services polish their star rankings, I'm looking for future college football players who bring name recognition right out of the box. If you've read any of my previous work on the subject, you know I'm slightly obsessed with the nomenclature of athletes. The great Steve Rushin wrote it best when discussing former NFL receiver MarTay Jenkins in a column for SI. "The difference between a Marty and a MarTay, it goes without saying, is the difference between a party and a partay," Rushin wrote.
That's why I sent an e-mail Monday that resulted in a call from Thor a few hours later.
Thor Long, who threw for 33 touchdowns as a senior at Sherman (Texas) High, would be the quarterback for SI.com's Class of 2011 All-Name Team. Long, who committed this past weekend to Northeastern State University in Talequah, Okla., will make a fine signal-caller for the Masters of the Moniker. He has the confidence befitting someone named after either the hammer-wielding Norse god of thunder or a Marvel Comics superhero -- whose character happens to be based on the hammer-wielding Norse god of thunder. Long also has the humility to understand why he wasn't named captain of the team.
That honor belongs to God's Power Offor, the owner of the finest name to hit college athletics since a young Destiny Frankenstein left Broken Arrow, Okla., in 2002 to seek glory on the softball field at Kansas. Offor, a Nigerian immigrant who played defensive end for American High near Miami, plans to sign with Wake Forest next month. He may need to redshirt to add bulk to his 220-pound frame, but Offor already is a star among the name-obsessed.
The other co-captain for the class of 2011 is Wonderful Terrific Monds, an uncommitted defensive end from Fort Pierce, Fla. Monds comes from a line of athletes named Wonderful Terrific Monds, but it's tough to deduct originality points for a name so -- for lack of superior adjectives -- wonderful and terrific.
Offor, who once turned down the chance to change his name to David, and Monds will take over the captaincy from a pair who served the class of 2010 well. By signing with Navy, Hawaii native Wave Ryder created the perfect marriage of name and school. As a Southern Miss freshman, undersized defensive back Furious Bradley's work as a special-teams dynamo wiped away any lingering controversy surrounding his selection as co-captain over Cincinnati's Munchie Legeaux. (The reason for the choice is simple. Legueax's given first name is Benton, and his grandmother tagged him with his nickname. Bradley's given first name is Furious. Birth certificate trumps nickname every time.)
Offor will take over his post with something to prove. He was upset in the round of eight in the 2010 Name of the Year Tournament. Why voters chose Cameroonian soccer player Banana Yaya over Offor by a four-percent margin is a mystery we'll never unravel. Had he advanced, Offor almost certainly would have routed Dallas personal trainer Charity Beaver, St. Joseph's track star Nohjay Nimpson and Australian Rules footballer -- and eventual winner -- Steele Sidebottom. Had Offor won, it would have marked the second consecutive year that a college football recruit had claimed the title. In 2009, LSU defensive end signee Barkevious Mingo beat out non-athlete Iris Macadangdang in the final to claim the title. Mingo has since blossomed on the field. Despite being a backup, Mingo had 5.5 tackles for loss in 2010, and he could compete for a starting job this fall.
(Alas, Florida Atlantic linebacker Yourhighness Morgan also got jobbed during the 2007 Name of the Year Tournament. In the cumulative results, he finished a disappointing 13th behind such names as winner and securities trader Vanilla Dong and Phyre Quickly Burns, a Dallas-area high school fullback who is now a student at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, R.I.)
Long understands the value of a great name. Before his family moved to Texas, Long lived in Pennsylvania. Wrestling was huge there, and opponents did not relish learning that they had to grapple with someone named Thor. Long loves the name, and he's thrilled his father, Tom, didn't go with his first choice. "It was Knight, like a Medieval Times-type Knight," Long said. "Thank goodness he didn't name me that."
Long said his name was inspired by the Marvel Comics character -- who is about to get the summer blockbuster treatment -- and not the Norse god. The explanation makes it easier to square his first name with his middle name, Christian. "Some people say it's ironic," he said.
Long, a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder, almost certainly would have had a longer offer list if he were two inches taller. He also probably would have drawn more interest had he started as a junior, but that was out of his control. As a sophomore, one of his parents drove an hour round-trip each morning and afternoon to Callisburg High, a 2A school in Callisburg, Texas. The family had planned to move from Sherman to Callisburg, but Long's mother, Dottie, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in '09. The family stayed in Sherman so Dottie could receive treatment, and Long transferred to Sherman High, which already had a solid incumbent quarterback. Long started this season and threw for more than 2,900 yards in an offense identical to the one at Tulsa. Even better, Dottie has made a full recovery, Long said.
It's unclear what kind of talent Long will have around him at Northeastern State, but he'll have plenty of help on the All-Name Team. Offor is a speed rusher with a lightning-quick first step. At 6-3 and 287 pounds, Kansas State commitment Boston Stiverson is lean and athletic enough to protect Long's blind side. That should give Long time to get the ball to Prince McJunkins, a speedster from Wagoner, Okla., who committed to Louisiana-Monroe this past weekend.
Speaking of McJunkins, his commitment has created a significant shift in my class of 2011 team rankings. While Rivals.com ranks Alabama, Texas and LSU's classes as the best of 2011, I have Louisiana-Monroe on top. Why? Because by adding McJunkins to a class that already contained linebacker Hunter Kissinger and tight end Harley Scioneaux, the Warhawks are assembling an All-Name all-star team. If Louisiana-Monroe coach Todd Berry could somehow convince Rock Hill, S.C., defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to come to Monroe, the Warhawks would certainly lock down the team title in my rankings.
This may prove difficult, though. Most recruiting analysts consider Clowney to be the best player in the class of 2011. His finalists appear to be Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, LSU and South Carolina. Tuesday, Clowney's coach told ESPN.com that that Clowney may wait until his birthday on Feb. 14 to announce his school choice.
So the rest of the nation's recruitniks may have to wait until Valentine's Day to learn where their No. 1 recruit is headed. I already know the destination of the No. 1 player in my rankings. He's going to Wake Forest. Because while Jadeveon Clowney certainly is an All-Namer, he isn't even the best-named player at his own position in the Class of 2011.
Take it from a guy named Thor. There can only be one God's Power Offor. And while there have been several people named Wonderful Terrific Monds, their names are Wonderful Terrific Monds, for goodness sakes.
"That's kind of hard to compete with," Long said.