Big Decision Coming Soon For McNeill

New Orleans, La.–-All Auburn offensive tackle Marcus McNeill has to do when he needs a question answered about whether or not to go to the NFL after his junior season is to turn around in the backfield and look to seniors Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown for guidance.

Auburn's running back tandem, along with cornerback Carlos Rogers, all had the same decision last season that McNeill must deal with in the coming days. How high in the NFL Draft is high enough? That question can only ultimately be answered by McNeill, but he says he'll talk to anyone who will listen that might have something useful to say.

"Ronnie Brown is from Cartersville and I'm from Decatur so I like to talk to him a lot about it because he was in this situation last year, whether or not to stay or go," McNeill says. "I look to those guys, the Ronnie Browns, the Carnell Williams and the Carlos Rogers, who had the opportunity last year to go, and look at how they weighed their decisions. I don't want to make the wrong decision. A lot of money is riding on it and a lot of people are waiting on me. I know if I leave they're going to have to recruit somebody else, they have to bring in more recruits.

"I'm trying not to wait too long because if I do leave I want my coaches to have the best opportunity to go out there and get the best recruits at my position," he adds. "I'm really looking at it from my perspective and also Auburn University's perspective. I don't want to leave anybody hanging in the balance. I'm trying to do this in the best fashion I can, but at the same time I can't rush my decision because then I might mess myself up. It's a difficult decision, but hopefully I keep praying about it and will make the right decision."

McNeill celebrates the SEC title win over Tennessee.

McNeill has been as good this season as any offensive tackle in Auburn history in helping Auburn to the SEC Championship. Earning All-SEC and All-American honors, he says that while the lure of the NFL is something that he's considering, the chance to stay in college and do some of the things he's always dreamed of means that even if he's thought to be a first round pick he might not come out.

"Definitely not," McNeill says. "Next year I have a lot of goals that I have set already if I come back to Auburn University. I want to be up for some of the awards that I didn't get to win this year. Of course everyone wants to win the Outland Trophy and stuff like that, make maybe a Playboy All-American or something like that. If I can go the 29th pick this year then I can come back and have an outstanding year next year next year and go even higher. I understand it's a business and I'm going to take a business-like approach to it."

Right now McNeill appears to be on the borderline as far as most experts think. Several NFL sites have the junior among the top three or four tackles in the country, which would put him in line to be a possible first round selection. He says that despite the early returns, he's going to wait for something a little more concrete before making his decision.

"The internet sites really don't do anything for me," McNeill says. "True enough it looks good to sit there and they have the mock drafts and you see yourself as the sixth, 11th, or 13th pick. It looks good, but I don't know what the credibility of that site is. That's why I'm waiting on the NFL Advisory Board. I sent my papers off before I went home for the Christmas break. That's going to be a real big key to how I make my decision because they actually know what's happening. The gm's send that back and those are guys that are actually in the NFL. I'll see how coaches and gm's look at me from the NFL perspective."

With the possibility looming large that he may not be back at Auburn, McNeill is using every moment he has to enjoy the time with his teammates. That means joking around with them in public and in the media, like when asked who was the best dressed player on this year's team.

"I'm probably the best dressed guy," McNeill says. "Pound for pound, definitely the best dressed guy. Carlos Rogers is not going to like me saying that, but if you ever see us out you can look at us and I'm always much cleaner than him. And his hairline is receding too. You can get that on tape. The worst dressed guy is probably Stanley McClover. I'm trying to teach him though. He's from South Florida and I'm taking him under my wing, teaching him how to iron his clothes a little bit and take a bath every once in a while."

If McNeill moves on you can bet that players like King Dunlap and Leon Hart will be glad to have been under McNeill's wings for at least one season because if they perform as he did they'll one day fly high.


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