When LSU commitment Lewis Neal stepped onto the field in Spartanburg, SC, on Saturday for the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, he knew he had to play his best. Neal explained that after having the opportunity to visit with children from the Shriners Hospital for Children throughout the week, the 6-2 240-pound standout felt he needed to play well for those he had the opportunity to meet.
The three-star player, from James Hunt High School (Wilson, NC), said the week was full of memories that he will not soon forget, and it gave him motivation to take full advantage of his abilities on the gridiron.
"It was a great experience," Neal told TSD Sunday. "It's all for the kids at Shriners that can't do what we get to do. It makes us work harder at what we do for the people that don't have a chance to do it.
"It makes me work harder because those kids never give up on what they do. I have no excuse to not play my best all the time after meeting those kids. I just want to do it for them and be the best that I can be."
Neal also felt that playing in the game helped him to be prepared for the next level. He explained that playing against the great players that he did will go a long way in helping his development as a player.
"I got to play with a lot of great players," said Neal. "I feel like it helped me get prepared for the next level with the speed of the game and everything."
Projected to play defensive end in college, Neal definitely made his presence known throughout the game, registering a 23-yard loss on a sack.
While complete statistics were not available for the game (in which North Carolina lost to South Carolina 23-19), Neal believes that he played a great game. Even though he believes he performed well, Neal indicated he still could have played better.
"I feel like I had a pretty big game," said Neal. "It was easy, to be honest, a lot easier than I thought it would be. I thought it would be a lot harder than it was, going up against the lineman I was going up against. My speed was key. I made some big plays, but I feel like I could have made more."
Because he played in the game with fellow LSU commitment and Tarheel state prospect Greg Gilmore, Neal said the two had a great opportunity to form a friendship that they both look forward continuing once they are both in purple and gold.
"It felt great because it will be like this for the next four years," said Neal. "We are going to be having big games like that a lot when we get to LSU. It was just a lot of fun playing with my future teammate. We built a great relationship and we are really excited to get to play together at the next level."
Once planning to enroll early in Baton Rouge, Neal explained that he would now enroll in June. However, Neal said that he is planning to be back on campus at LSU before he is set to enroll.
"I'm planning on going to the spring game," said Neal. "It isn't official yet, but that is when I want to come in. I'm enrolling in June so it will be good to see everything right before then."
Neal motivated following Shrine Game
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