March 5, 2012

A look at Neal's mature approach

Many young players love to be told their best and paraded around like celebrities when visiting colleges, but not Wilson (NC) Hunt defensive end Lewis Neal.

The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder claims scholarship offers from Clemson, East Carolina, NC State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Purdue, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wake Forest joined the list Saturday, Feb. 25 when he was in Winston-Salem for the Demon Deacons Junior Day festivities. Maryland, Oregon and other schools have shown interest. He has not given any school an edge over the others.

"I like all of the schools that are recruiting me," Neal said.

For Neal the necessary requirements a school must possess to be under his consideration are: must have his major, coaches who want him and players he wants to play with.

"They have to have Kinesiology," Neal said. "I want to be a personal trainer. I don't just want to be another kid committing. [When] I go to these schools I want to meet the players, so I can see how the players act, because I'm going to play with them in the next year. I ask the players a lot of things. That's really the main thing about it, because your coach is going to be your coach regardless; not a friend, your coach is going to be your coach. They're going to care about you regardless. They're just going to have to be your coach at the same time. I want a coach that's going to push me and be on me 24/7. You want to work hard. You want a coach that's going to give his all to you. I want somebody who's going to criticize me. That will tell you they care about you. It will get you better, because when somebody tells me something it gets me better."

Wake Forest appears to have passed the early litmus test, but it will be a fight to the finish to reel in the Wilson product.

Neal, who said he had fun and that the coaches are cool spent the most time with Jonathan Himebauch and Ray McCartney during the visit.

"I talked to Coach Himebauch a lot," Neal said. "He was with me the whole time. He showed me around campus. They were just telling me how it is. It's a private school, so the environment was different from the other schools. It was quiet. It's a smaller school than others, not a lot of stuff going on, just a different environment. I like it. It's good. There's some ups and downs to it. It's private and it's small, so that's a up, but the down is then again sometimes you want to go to a public school, because It would be bigger. It can go both ways. You might like it, because it's small, but then you might not, because less people."

He said Wake would use him as a defensive end or outside linebacker depending on the front.

Neal is looking at his decision from different point of views. He does not know which conference he wants to play in, and a team's depth chart will also factor into his consideration.

The rising star will visit Maryland March 10, ECU March 24, South Carolina March 31 and Clemson April 7 and 14. He also plans to participate in the Nike Football Training Camp May 6 and the VTO Sports Combine April 1.

Neal missed three games at the beginning of his junior year due to a sprained ankle, but returned to record 88 tackles, eight sacks and three forced fumbles to help lead Hunt to the fourth round of the state playoffs and a 13-1 finish. He was equally impressive as a sophomore when he made 96 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a 48-yard touchdown reception offensively.

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