McNeal talks ‘top notch’ trip

Alabama hosted dozens of top targets this week for its final camp of the summer, and DeAndre McNeal’s first impression of Tuscaloosa lasted the duration. With his family alongside, the four-star worked out at his position of preference and learned just how coveted he is.

Mesquite (Tex.) Poteet athlete DeAndre McNeal has risen up many recruiting boards this spring and summer, including Alabama’s, and he took his first trip to Tuscaloosa over four days this week.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound four-star camped for a portion, toured for another and spent time with Nick Saban and his staff in between.

“It was great, a top-notch trip,” he said. “I saw a lot of great things, my family saw a lot of great things. You hear about the tradition at Alabama, and we got to see it. I was impressed as much as my family and coach were. My grandparents and my mother went with me, they all wanted to come so they tagged along.

“I camped during the overnight camp, I joined in, ran some routes, and it was a great thing. I talked to Coach (Billy) Napier, Coach (Bobby) Williams and they showed me a couple of things and what they want to do with me on offense.”

Playing mostly linebacker alongside five-star Malik Jefferson this spring, many schools shifted their focus of McNeal to defense. Alabama was not one of those programs.

“They want me to play tight end and wide receiver because I’m one of the most versatile players, so they want me to line up inside and pop outside and vice versa,” he said. “Coach Nick Saban also said if I wanted to play defense, I can as well.

“I would rather play offense, I have been playing offense since six years old, I think I do a great job of catching the ball and making people miss. I’m a play-maker, and I know you can be one on defense, but I just like scoring touchdowns and having the ball in my hands.”

Saban didn’t surprise one of the Lone Star State’s best very much over the week, especially when the two sat down and spoke.

“I expected everything he gave me,” McNeal said. “He is straight-edge, pinpoint guy, no beating around the bush. He knows what he’s talking about and has the success to prove it. Everything I got out of him was exactly what I expected, he’s an old-fashioned man.”

Despite Saban, his staff, the facilities and atmosphere in Tuscaloosa, the rising-senior had another part of his visit in mind when singling one out.

“The best part of my trip was my tour guide. She was great at taking me around, and she was great-looking,” he said laughing. “It was great, like the facilities. Everything was up to date. $3.4 million was put into every facility they have, and it was great.”

After the 11-hour drive back to Texas Wednesday, McNeal came to the realization that the process only gets harder after seeing more and more programs first hand. His initial impression of the Crimson Tide certainly didn’t hurt its chances for his eventual signature, however.

“Alabama really, really, really wants me. The visit helps them, you can’t go wrong at Alabama. It definitely helped them, a lot,” he said. “But I’m still being open. As soon as I take my officials, I’ll take another week and make my decision the next week.”

McNeal, who is tabbed as the No. 27 outside linebacker in the country by, says he’s looking for a destination that will challenge him on and off the field, as well as during the offseason. He is done with unofficial visits this summer and plans on making a decision in the fall after taking official trips.

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