Neal: "I have to take what is mine"

He wasn't a high school All-American for nothing. Class of 2013 safety Keanu neal of South Sumter committed to Florida a week after signing day in 2012 and he never wavered from that commitment. Neal along with fellow safety Marcell Harris sees the opportunity before them in Gainesville and the personable Neal says he's going to get him a spot.

Florida lost both starting safeties to the NFL and the top back up who was removed from the program after the 2012 season. With the exodus the way it is, Florida set out to sign a few safeties in the 2013 class. They added Keanu Neal and Marcell Harris, both high school All-Americans from central Florida. They also added All-American Nick Washington, but since then he has been moved to corner upon his arrival on campus.

It leaves Harris and Neal a lot of opportunity. That opportunity comes to a head when Neal shows up on campus on June 25.

"I am very excited," Neal said with a grin you could see through the phone.

Neal knows he has a real chance to make a move when he gets on campus at a position that head coach Will Muschamp says is still a concern. With defections and movement like safety Rhaheim Ledbetter to fullback, a position or two in the depth chart are ripe for the taking. It go so slim, that Muschamp moved a few players over to the position in the spring.

"It just shows that the numbers are very limited and they had to move some guys over to safety," he said. "That makes for a huge opportunity for me and the other guys coming in."

The opportunity got just a little bit easier for fellow freshman-to-be Harris who managed to graduate early and enroll in school at the end of last month for a small head start. It kind of tweaks Neal a little bit even though the two are really good friends.

"Yeah, but I am just going to continue to work and keep grinding… whatever happens, happens. "

Defensive back coach Travaris Robinson supplied the backs with a DVD showing techniques and workouts they can use to make themselves better, even before they show up on campus. Neal is all over that instruction video.

"I am really focusing on my coverage and footwork," he said which are focuses of the DVD. "It's a manual of all the things they want us doing and I have done in the spring. I have continued doing them through the summer. I am learning how to do the certain techniques they do there… it is way different than high school."

Robinson is also careful to make sure that Neal knows he is right there with the rest of the players at the safety position in terms of opportunity.

"He just constantly tells me that my opportunity is there and I just have to work for it," he said. "I have to take what is mine."

He keeps in contact with several of his recruiting class that enrolled early at Florida and have been there since January.

"I keep in contact with Alex Anzalone, Matt Rolin, and Joey Ivie," he said. "I was going to room with Marcell Harris, but he is already enrolled so I don't know how that works."

In the end it is about desire, work ethic, ability, intelligence, and the other intangibles that go into making a big time football player… all things that Neal seems to have. He will do whatever he has to in order to get on the field, including playing a lot of special teams.

"I expect to play," he said. "That is my goal… to get into position to do so and I'm not going to accept anything else. I don't mind special teams, but that isn't what I want to be known for."


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