Player Profile: Bryant McNeil

Clemson has a long-standing tradition of dominating defensive lineman, from the time that William Perry and William Devane made Nebraska's All American Center Dave Rimington their personal rag doll in the National Championship game, many tremendous defensive lineman donned the orange and white on their way to the NFL.

Michael Dean Perry, Chester McGlockton, and Trevor Pryce have all had fruitful careers in the NFL and all made lives miserable for opponents while at Clemson.

Over the past few seasons, defensive line production has dropped somewhat, but with a bevy of young talent like Charles Bennett, Mo Fountain, Donnell Washington, Khaleed Vaughn, and Rod Whipple in the fold right now, things should be turning around very quickly. One guy who no one seems to be talking about, but has definitely caught my eye is Bryant McNeil.

Bryant McNeil was vastly underrated in high school, but people who saw him saw a future star. He came onto recruiting scenes late, and picked up offers from N.C. State and South Carolina as well as Clemson. If you read Cris Ard's mail call, you saw that Auburn was also very close to offering, but simply ran out of scholarships.

McNeil definitely has the frame to be a player. At 6'5 240 he is tall enough to see over offensive tackles and look at the action in the backfield, and his arms are long enough to not get engulfed by the bigger offensive tackles he will face when FSU, GT and South Carolina come calling. In the first 2 games this season I have been very impressed at the improvement I have seen in McNeil over last year.

He looks exponentially better at keeping his outside shoulder free while rushing the passer, and coming down the line when the flow goes away from him. When the play comes to him, he used to let his length and height hinder him, now he breaks down, and does one of the best jobs of wrapping up as anyone on this young defense. One thing about McNeil is when he gets to the quarterback, he gets there with thunder, and he has accounted for some huge hits in his brief career.

My favorite hit of the entire 2000 campaign was a shot he put on Phillip Rivers last year in the NC State game, I was surprised Rivers got up, and this past week against Wofford, he abused the offensive tackle and by midway through the 3rd quarter was causing the Wofford QB to just throw it up for grabs. In the 2nd half alone McNeil had 3 tackles for loss, which accounted for –19 yards.

If the Tiger defense is to improve on its 2000 showing, and stop the big play, the defensive ends will have to be able to get to the quarterback consistently, if the Swansea native continues to play as hard as he has, teams will have to start doubling him up, freeing up the rest of the defensive line to get up field. Many people have called McNeil a "poor man's Lorenzo Bromell," but I disagree, I think when it is all said and done, McNeil will be better than Bromell ever was, and if he puts on 15-20 more pounds, he could easily be a first round draft pick.

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