Why? Because it will begin the next chapter in his life.
"I'm getting myself mentally prepared for what is to come," the Clemson
signee said earlier this week. "I'm going to be away from my parents and
growing up on my own now. It's not just a football thing."
McNeal is prepping himself because he will be a thousand miles or more
away from his family when he reports to Clemson on July 28 for fall
practice. He realizes by picking a school so far from home that his
support system will not physically be there, though he understands he is
just a phone call away from any advice or ears he needs to bend.
"When I went (to Clemson), I realized everyone is from that area, maybe a
half hour to an hour drive or something like that," the Minneapolis,
Minn., native said. "Tajh (Boyd) is 15 minutes away now and (Jonathan)
Meeks is about 30 minutes away so I'm the only person that has to get on a
plane to get home so it is different that they will be able to go home and
But that should just be a temporary problem for McNeal, as his family is
looking into moving to either Charlotte or Atlanta in the coming year.
Until then, he says he is going to work on forming a bond with his
teammates and coaches so he will have a strong family in Clemson as well
as one at home.
"I'm worried, obviously, because everyone is worried when you leave for
college and your home state, but at the same time I'm excited and ready to
pursue something new," he said.
What he is ready to pursue is a career in football that he hopes ends with
him being the best wide receiver he can be for the Clemson Tigers. The
first signee from the state of Minnesota since 1968, McNeal was rated as a
four-star recruit by Scout.com after grabbing more than 72 passes for more
than 1,100 yards in his high school career.
With a receiving group that is considered as one of the weak links on this
year's team, McNeal hopes he can come in and help a group that he thinks
is as talented and deep as any position Clemson has.
"Obviously, I want my position core to be strong, but right now (the
media) says it's questionable, but I hope I can come in and help and try
to compete," he said. "I will just work as hard as I can and go from
"But the other guys all look like ballers to me. They are D-I athletes and
they are there for a reason. I'm pretty sure they are going to be okay.
Plus, everyone is talking about our receivers, but Jacoby did not practice
really that much in the spring and Jacoby is obviously a big factor."
McNeal is doing everything he can to make sure he is a factor. The
6-foot-2, 180-pound receiver is already working out a lot with his
stepfather Melvin Moore, a former NFL player who played with the Steelers
and the Vikings, and he plans, like the last couple of summers, to workout
with All-Pro wideout Larry Fitzgerald.
"It helps to be around guys like that," McNeal said. "Being with people
that have been successful and made it there, it just makes you realize
more and more that it is possible. All you have to do is go out and grab
it. It is there for the taking."
After working out with his stepfather, McNeal says he spends about
30-minutes a day running routes and catching passes. When he gets the
opportunity to workout with Fitzgerald, he just listens to what he tells
him and tries to learn as much as he can.
"I just listen to what he says and absorb it whether it is a positive or a
negative, and I try to be successful in what I have been doing."
McNeal eager to get to Clemson
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