Neal Earns Defensive POY at O-D Bowl
After an impressive performance in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, Neal turned heads in Houston during the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl. He earned Defensive Player of the Year honors while helping his National team to a 20-9 victory in Reliant Stadium.
Neal applied pressure to the quarterbacks throughout the game, and even came up with some stops on special teams, showing aggressiveness and physicality. Still, he wanted to do more.
"It feels good, but you really can't do much the way we rotated," Neal said. "Honestly I got in a good series, get warmed up and then you have to come back out."
The O-D Bowl also gave Neal an opportunity to play with a pair of his future teammates along the defensive line. Neal rotated with fellow LSU commit Michael Patterson at RE and often lined up next to DT Tevin Lawson.
"It felt great because that's how it's going to be next year," Neal said. "Being able to compete with those guys is a great feeling. I'm ready to get that chemistry on the field."
Neal called the past week a great blend of fun and competition, but was held back by a lingering knee injury. He said it is minor, but it did keep him around "80-85 percent" throughout the week.
He'll have a minor procedure on his knee when he returns to North Carolina after taking in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. He'll be sidelined for three weeks while he recovers.
After that, he'll travel to Austin to compete with the U.S. Under-19 National Team in the International Bowl on Feb. 5. There he'll play with some of his O-D Bowl teammates — Chase Abbington and Andrew Billings — then sign his National Letter of Intent the next day on NSD.
Then it's all LSU, where he'll enroll in June. Asked about his goals for his freshman year, Neal had simple expectations.
"Playing hard and helping my team win," he said.
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