As a redshirt freshman in 2010, he caught a respectable 19 passes for 187 yards. He also played 318 snaps in 12 games, three of which were starts.
But instead of taking another step forward in spring practice, he went backwards. And head coach Dabo Swinney, offensive coordinator Chad Morris and wide receivers coach Jeff Scott have sent a message that has been received loud and clear.
Put up or shut up. And, if it was going to be the latter, get out of the way.
"I wasn't doing my job my first two years here," McNeal admitted on Monday. "I showed flashes of what I could do. I wasn't consistent. I had a conversation with my mother and dad. It was time for me to step up."
During that talk with the two people that McNeal called "the most influential" in his life, McNeal said he did most of the talking.
Mom and dad offered their take that it was McNeal's fault, himself.
"I just wanted to let them know that I understand that. I know that...I'm not going to be upset with anybody but myself," McNeal said.
Of the veteran wide receivers, he's put together one of top solid preseason camp performances.
It took a "matter of fact" spring practice exit meeting with Morris to help get that ball rolling.
"He listened and I got to talk," Morris said.
The first-year offensive coordinator shared what was said during that exchange.
'Now is the time. Make your mind up if you want to play, or you can go somewhere else. We're just not going to put up with you. You were a five-star athlete when you got here. What have you done since you've been here?'
Morris went on to say that McNeal has had a "decent" camp.
"I don't want to tell him he's had a great camp, because he'll start signing autographs. He's definitely capable. He's doing what we ask him to do."
McNeal bought what Morris and the rest of the staff was selling. The redshirt sophomore began making those strides during summer workouts.
"I decided to make a mindset that I was going come out focused, work hard and bleed with these guys, try to get to the goal," he said.
Swinney has taken notice, too.
"He's probably been the biggest surprise," he said. "Not a surprise in his ability. The kid is very talented. He's been the biggest surprise in how he's transformed on the practice field. You have to give a lot of credit to those young guys that have come in here and raised the level of competition.
"I'm proud of Bryce, because he's stepped up. He's answered the call."
McNeal not backing down
CUTigers.com Top Stories
ACC CHAMPIONSHIP POST-GAME INTERVIEWSWatch Dabo Swinney, Deshaun Watson and more Clemson coaches and players discuss their second consecutive ACC Championship on Saturday night!
CUTigers.comSunday at 11:18 AM
PLAYOFF REPEAT FOR TIGERS#2 Clemson will join Alabama as the only two programs to make repeat trips to the College Football Playoff.
CUTigers.comSunday at 10:10 AM
ANOTHER CLEMSON CHAMPIONSHIP!!!#3 Clemson held on to beat #23 Virginia Tech 42-35 for its first back-to-back ACC Titles in 28 years.
CUTigers.comSaturday at 11:52 PM
ACC CHAMPIONSHIP PRESS CONFERENCEWatch Dabo Swinney's Press Conference Prior to the ACC Championship Game Between #3 Clemson and #23 Virginia Tech!
CUTigers.comSaturday at 9:38 AM