NORMAN — Walking down the hallway of Norman's newly constructed locker room, Zach Long looks comfortable.
Talking with teammates, the long and lean quarterback seems at ease. At the head of the huddle, he shows confidence. On the field, he appears a natural.
Not bad for a move-in sophomore.
Then again, there's a catch to Long's story. One that explains how a coaching hire at the University of Kansas resulted in the answer to Norman High's need for a quarterback.
"Everything is familiar here," said Long, who arrived in Norman from San Diego and whose sun-tinted blond hair and bronzed skin reflect that some of California came with him. "We thought this would be easier for us and be a good fit."
Indeed it is. And no introductions were necessary, because this was returning more than relocating.
Zach is the son of Chuck Long, Chuck is a former NFL quarterback and member of the College Football Hall of Fame, although he's best known in Norman for the six seasons he spent as an assistant coach at Oklahoma.
When Turner Gill became the head coach at Kansas, one of his first moves was bringing in Long, who was head coach at San Diego State from 2006-2008, as offensive coordinator.
Knowing his family would be making its second cross-country move in four years, Long and his wife Lisa decided she and the kids would return to Norman. The family has deep roots there, and they'd be in relative proximity to Lawrence, Kan.
"We were all excited," said Zach, one of five children. "We knew we were going to move and start over at a new school. Why not go somewhere we already know we like and where we know a lot of people already? We just thought it would be easier to come here."
Besides, Norman is where it all began: Chuck was born there in 1963.
But that's just the beginning. Chuck's father was a Norman native. His two oldest daughters (Lindsey and Sammy) both graduated from Norman High. Oldest son Nate, (a senior basketball player for Norman), Zach and youngest daughter Maddy had all been in Norman Public Schools before the move out west. And plenty of friends remain from families of OU staff members who coached with Chuck from 2000-2005.
And while it was a natural fit for the Longs, it was a welcome surprise for the Norman football team. With last year's starting quarterback, Chad Anderson, having graduated, the Tigers were searching for a signal caller.
"With Zach being the son of a player and coach, he has picked up on a lot of things," said Norman coach Greg Nation. "He's been around football his whole life."
He hasn't played football his whole life, though. In fact, this is just his second season of organized football. He got started as a freshman last year in Poway, Calif., a suburb 22 miles outside of San Diego.
However, he's been well-schooled.
"My dad has always taught me about football even before I played," said Zach.
At 6-0 and 155 pounds, Long is still growing. But he already has the look of a quarterback.
"He's got great footwork and knowledge of the game," Nation said. "There are a lot of things you don't have to work on with him that you normally would with a sophomore."
He also has the skills.
"I've never had a quarterback with the touch on the ball that he has," said Norman's big-play receiver Jaime Myers. "As a receiver, I feel real good about having him as a quarterback, real good. We could all tell when we started practicing that he was going to be a good fit with us."
A good fit for everyone involved, really. Not bad for a move-in.
District 6A-3 coaches' poll 1. Jenks (13-1) 2. Broken Arrow (10-3) 3. Southmoore (11-2) 4. Muskogee (3-6) 5. Norman (4-6) 6. Shawnee (11-1) 7. Sapulpa (1-9) 8. Putnam City West (0-10) 2009 record in parentheses