Clemson looked to add a weapon at the wideout position in the 2009 class and received an exceptional one in the Minnesota standout.
For years, Clemson recruiting fans have complained about the lack of a true weapon on the outside since the departure of Derrick Hamilton.. While Clemson has elevated the level of talent at WR over the past few recruiting cycles, it still hadn't found that dominant game-breaker.
That is, until this year.
Bryce McNeal is one of the best looking prospects at receiver that the Tigers have landed and should produce plenty of big moments for the orange and white over the next four years.
Bryce possesses good height at a legitimate 6'2" and augments that with a 37" vertical leap. He shows a good ability to high point the ball and an aptitude to go and get it. While not a dominant player in the jump ball arena, his athletic tools and strong hands make him a threat when the ball goes up. However, at this point in his development, he lacks the necessary physicality to be a consistent redzone fade threat. He must become more aggressive in bodying up a defensive back and hand-fighting while the ball is in flight as well as adding bulk and strength to his frame if he wants to become a more complete receiver.
McNeal enjoys incredibly soft hands and utilizes them to great effect. A proud owner of one of the best sets of mitts in the entire nation, he displayed a tremendous ability to catch the ball away from his body time and time again. This facet of his game may be the furthest along of any, combining nice physical gifts with solid fundamentals.
Shows great wiggle in the open field and will, more often than not, make the first defender miss. Explosive in the open field due to a variety of moves and his exceptional burst, he is a threat to house it if given a seam. Accelerates exceptionally well and runs through traffic with ease. However, do not expect him to break a tackle if the defender manages to get a hand on him. He is thin for his frame and relatively weak. Bryce will have to dedicate himself in the weight room early and often in his career.
Bryce's flaws are few and far between. While he's listed at 180, he seems to be closer to 170 and will need to add at least 10 (preferably 15) pounds in order to reach the pinnacle of his effectiveness.
The only other major knock is his level of competition. He dominated the ranks in Minnesota by simply stepping on the field as the most talented athlete. While he didn't have the chance to show much in game situations, when matched up against other top talent, McNeal did shine in the drills. If he can translate that success to live situations with the lights on, he will make an instant impact.
What is most exciting about McNeal is his versatility. He's not a jump ball receiver; he's not a slot receiver that gets yards after the catch; he's not a possession receiver. In fact, he's all of them rolled into one. Perhaps one of the most complete receivers in the entire nation, Bryce has the unique ability to play any one of the three primary receiving positions to great effect and has a tremendous ceiling at all of them.
PERSONAL RATING: High-end four-star. I think McNeal is one of the top 150 players in the entire nation and greatly undervalued in his Scout.com rating. He demonstrates superior athletic ability, has an extremely high ceiling, and flashes good fundamentals. He is a top 10 receiver of the 2009 class. Bryce will play as a true freshman; his impact will be up to him and his dedication. He is the most talented WR that will set foot in Death Valley since the departure of Derrick Hamilton, and even going back further to Rod Gardner.