Neal is flying high after a strong showing this past weekend at the FBU Top Gun Camp in Virginia, an event he dominated enough to earn the Defensive Line MVP.
"It's very exciting," said Neal, a three-star recruit who committed to LSU on July 4. "I had fun competing against the offensive linemen at the camp. I learned a lot from the coaches and got some drills I can use to help myself and my teammates get better."
Sharing the stage with 800 other prep stars, Neal stood out by "dominating a bunch of 4- and 5-star linemen."
Besides the MVP honor, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Neal – rated by FOXSportsNEXT.com as the 41st best middle linebacker in the country – also garnered a provisional invitation to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
"I did pretty well," Neal said. "None of those big-name linemen could stop me. People knew about me, but not everybody and now they do. The (U.S. Army bowl) staff told me they'd call me back next week. I've done what I can do to give them every reason to invite me."
Whether that invite arrives or not, Neal said he'll remain motivated as he enters his senior season at Hunt High in Wilson, N.C.
Last season he recorded 88 tackles, 8 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries and helped the Warriors post a 13-1 record.
A middle linebacker at the prep level, Neal's home on the field at the next level is yet to be determined. He wouldn't mind the idea of moving around at all.
He has spoken to LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis about operating as a rush end or even taking snaps inside on the defensive line if he can bulk up enough.
"I want to be able to be on the field on every down, whether that's as an end or linebacker or whatever Coach Chavis needs me to do; I don't want to just be a third-down pass rusher," Neal said. "Knowing he has that kind of faith in me to get me ready for multiple positions motivates me to keep working hard. I want to stay hungry."
While feeding that hunger, Neal has work to do.
Hunt is expected to compete for a state championship, led by the personable Neal. He wants to finish strong academically, and takes a 3.5 grade-point average into his senior year.
"I'm just getting ready for the season and trying to get a state championship so I can celebrate with my teammates and coaches before I move on," Neal said. "I wouldn't be anything without them."