A three sport athlete, Decatur Central's Lukayus McNeil has found a niche in football, as the 6'7, 270-pound offensive tackle is now holding 17 scholarship offers.
He recently scheduled his first official visit, a September 6 date to North Carolina State. With his calendar consistently filled with athletics, he has not been able to see as many schools as he would like, and that means the Wolfpack will not be his only official.
"The last time him and I talked, he said he would go through whole process," Hawks head coach Justin Dixson said, "and take all his officials. Being as busy as he is as an athlete, going from football to basketball, basketball to track to AAU basketball to football, and then we've already been in school a week, so it's a short summer, he didn't get out and visit a lot of places. He did get out to a couple unofficially, but he still would like to experience some schools. I know he hasn't been to Virginia Tech and he would like to get there, meet their staff, the same with Iowa, I know he'd like to get there and meet their staff, same with Kentucky."
The offers and interest are not typical of a kid who only picked football back up in the 9th grade and has only played one year of varsity. However, McNeil's talents and gifts are also not what one would call typical.
"Obviously, his physical size and ability, a guy of his stature and frame and the athletic ability he has, it's rare. Rarely do you see 6'7, 270-pound guys do the things he does athletically as far as run, bend, jump, do all things he can do."
On top of that, he likes to hit people.
"From a football standpoint, it's rare to see guys, especially in high school, guys of his caliber that really enjoy playing offensive line. Sometimes guys like that want to play skill positions. Everyone likes to touch the ball and score touchdowns and my experience with multi-sport guys, especially big guys, is, they think they're a tight end or wide receiver. What's special about Lukayus is, he embraces playing offensive line."
As with many high school players, McNeil continues to be a work in progress, but he knows what must be done and has the work ethic to do it.
"Everybody's been talking about footwork, fundamental things, physical strength, he knows to play at college level, he needs to put on weight, that's no secret. I think he's working really hard in the weight room to do that. Also, understanding how offensively, we want to attack different defenses and how to run block different defenses and how to study film and being a student of the game, that's something he's working on."
With recent offers from Michigan State, Oklahoma and others, McNeil's stock is on the rise, and Dixson knows that whoever lands him is getting, not only a very talented athlete, but also a great person.
"He's a genuinely good hearted kid. He's always energized and has a smile on. We had youth camp last weel and the elementary school kids were working with him, and I think he enjoyed it just as much as they did. He's great kid. He has a lot of friends. I think everyone generally likes being around him. He's a happy go lucky guy. In the locker room, on the field, people don't question his drive to get better on a daily basis as far as physicality and the way he practices. He's not a real rah-rah guy, he leads by example on the field."