In a class full of big-time prospects who signed with the Tigers earlier this year out of high school, none is any bigger than Marcus McNeill, an offensive tackle from Cedar Grove High.
"I have been lifting weights, running twice a day--every morning and every afternoon--trying to get ready for the summer two-a-days," McNeill tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. He could have easily added "growing" to his list of summer activities. Since signing with Auburn in February, the high school All-American has grown an inch taller and put on 42 pounds.
He currently checks in at a rather healthy six-foot-nine inches tall and 357 pounds. McNeill says he hasn't taken any vitamins or supplements to help him get bigger. "There is no need to," he says with a smile. "I don't need 'em."
Marcus McNeill is shown in a photograph taken last week.
One reason that McNeill is gaining weight is that he is concentrating on just one sport since graduating as a multi-sport athlete after being named Mr. Cedar Grove High School as a senior. Normally, this time of year he is pounding the hardwood on the AAU basketball circuit. However, instead he is pumping iron and doing individual football drills. The results are showing in a bigger and stronger recruit.
McNeill has heard that two-days in the August heat will be a challenge and is working on getting ready for that. "I try to get out and do my running in the heat of the day," he notes. He and high school teammate Jonathan Palmer, who will also play offensive line for the Tigers, are following a workout plan given to them by AU strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall. They are both expected to come to campus for workouts in early July.
"We are pretty much doing the same things the older linemen on the team are doing so we should be in pretty good shape when we get here," McNeill says. "Jonathon is in good shape, too."
Both McNeill and Palmer had college scholarship offers from colleges around the country. After starting all four years in high school, McNeill made the Max Emfinger, PrepStar and Tom Lemming All-American teams. He was ranked as the No. 2 offensive line prospect in the nation by PrepStar.
McNeill was also recruited by colleges around the country, picking the Tigers over Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Georgia and a variety of others. However, those accolades won't mean much to his future Auburn teammates until he proves that he belongs on the football field with them during the field trials known as two-a-days. McNeill says his plan is to do more than just survive the test.
"My goal is to come in to Auburn and start as a freshman," he says. "I am not trying to sit around. I want to come in here and live up to my expectations and the ones everybody has set for me."
Normally, freshman offensive linemen are redshirted and rarely do they start. "I know that, but I am trying to set my goals higher," McNeill says.
Tiger Ticket Extra: A four-sport athlete (football, basketball, baseball and track) and an honor student in high school who played both offense and defense in football, McNeill was named to the Orlando Sentinel's All-South team as a senior....His football coach at Cedar Grove, Robert Rice, says, "He is a good athlete who moves well. His potential is unlimited. He is a very intelligent young man with a high grade point average. I think he will be a big asset to the program at Auburn. He has very good feet and agility for someone his size. I just got to coach him one year, but I am impressed with Marcus as a player and person." ...Auburn offensive line coach Hugh Nall says he is looking forward to coaching McNeill and the three other incoming freshmen signees. "Marcus has a lot of athletic ability and is a smart young man," Nall notes.
For a perspective on how large young Mr. McNeill is, he towers over Scott Kennedy of Thesiders.com network and BorderWars. Scott is six-foot-two, 185 pounds.