Bryce McNaul was blown away from his most recent visit to the University of Cincinnati. The Eden Prairie, Minnesota linebacker is no stranger to the Queen City or the University of Cincinnati, but when he made a recent visit he left knowing things are different on the Clifton campus and in the Bearcats football program.
"I was blown away from what I saw." Said an excited McNaul. "I didn't know what to expect during our visit. My father played at Moeller High School for Gerry Faust and we always knew UC was there, but I was totally surprised from what I saw. The facilities at Cincinnati are better then any I've seen from any program so far."
Strong words from a player seeing interest from many of the elite programs across the country.
When asked to expand on his assessment of the "New" UC and the schools he's made visits to you quickly learn the Bearcats are now playing with the Big Boys of College Football.
"I've been to colleges like Penn State, Ohio State, Miami (Fla) and Notre Dame and was taken back when I saw everything during my visit to Cincinnati. Cincinnati now has what any player would want from a "Big Time" football program. From the medical and training equipment a player will have every tool needed to find success. Cincinnati has set the mark."
But while all that's new overwhelmed the young McNaul it was something else that has caught his attention.
"I didn't know what to expect when we stopped in for a visit. Coach Dantonio looked at my tape and offered me on the spot. I'm honored to have been offered by Coach Dantonio. He's a man of great character and you can see he has his priorities set straight for life. When I was there Coach Dantonio had to excuse himself from my visit because he needed to pick up his daughter from soccer. It would have been very easy for him to set aside what he'd promised to do and stay with me, but he did what he committed to do and I respect him for that."
These high standards are something Bryce McNaul finds important to him and have been ingrained into him all of his life. These standards come from a strong Cincinnati background.
"My father always talks about playing for Coach Faust and playing at Moeller. He's always spoke about Coach Faust talking to his players about life. He always told me about how Coach Faust would say football players learn more about being good people from the game of football and I can see Coach Dantonio is a lot like that."
While the recruiting process is still in it's early stages, Bryce McNaul already has several official offers on the table. Northwestern, Iowa State, Colorado State, Wyoming and Minnesota join UC in the early mix. On Thursday night I had the chance to speak with Bryce's mother and she spoke of several coaches who are showing high interest and the recruiting process.
"You never know what to believe from some of these coaches. Ohio State and Florida have been in school and have told us they really like Bryce and could make offers soon. The coach from Florida is worried they may be a little too far away from home as they've seen players from the Midwest struggle being so far away. I can see Bryce staying in the Midwest and maybe even in Ohio because of our family ties to the area."
After talking with Mrs. McNaul in-depth the night before I was excited about the prospects of her son looking to become a Bearcat. And as my conversation continued with Bryce I learned there are still several factors that will decide on the program he will chose.
Because of his size some college programs are looking at a position change, when asked if this would be a factor you learn more about Bryce as a person.
"I'm open to what is best for the team. Schools on the West Coach and from the South are looking at me playing defensive end or a drop end. Schools in the Midwest are saying they see me as a big Mike linebacker. All I know is I want to play college football."
When talking about the heated recruiting he's seen Bryce spoke of several areas he's found interesting.
"The text messaging is something I find very funny. Coaches can call you once but they'll text message you everyday for you to call them. I'm lucky, I got to watch my good friend Walker Ashley (USC - DT) go before me so I understand what is happening and the process."
Where does Bryce McNaul stand at this early date in his recruiting?
"At this point I'm still gathering information. I'm excited about everything going on but it's just too early to tell. As for Cincinnati, I could see myself playing for Coach Dantonio. I feel he's got things going in the right direction and has the tools to get the job done. The morning I made my visit I spoke with my grandparents about Cincinnati and they feel he's capable of turning it around. I'm aware of the past but I also know Coach Dantonio knows his stuff and has been successful.
Bryce McNaul is bound to see more offers on the table in the coming weeks and months. He's a big time player who would fit in nice on the Bearcats defense. When watching his highlight tape you learn very fast Bryce McNaul creates havoc on offenses. He's able to use leverage and strength to shoot gaps plus he's able to cover running backs coming out of the backfield and go sideline to sideline to make plays. While he's still got room to grow and put on more bulk without hurting his speed, McNaul is a player who may see some look to move him to the defensive end position. In the UC defense he would have a chance to be a major force at linebacker. We'll stay in contact with Bryce as the summer camp season gets in full swing.
You can watch his highlight clip at the following link.
I would like to thank Bryce and his mother for taking the time and talking about all the excitement surrounding Bryce's recruiting.