The Terps have been identifying and offering numerous class of 2017 prospects from around the country, but they did hand out at least one verbal to a rising star local April 29. Bullis (Potomac, Md.) athlete Damani Neal pulled in his third scholarship from the nearby university and couldn’t say enough about UMD.
“Having an offer from Maryland is an honor,” said Neal, who also holds early offers from Stanford and Rutgers. “It’s not exactly my hometown schools since I live in Virginia, but it’s close enough, and it meant a lot for them to offer me. It’s a great academic school, it’s a Big Ten program and I liked what I’ve seen there.”
Neal said he first came in contact with UMD area recruiter Chad Wilt in mid-April, shortly before trekking over to Bullis to watch a workout. With Wilt looking on, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound receiver/defensive went through a variety of speed and route-running drills during said workout, immediately catching the Terps’ assistant’s eye. Evidently Wilt let Neal know via Twitter he would be returning for another workout with Maryland’s receivers’ coach, Keenan McCardell, for a second evaluation.
“And that’s when I got the offer. Coach Wilt and Coach McCardell watched me run speed drills, agility drills and routes, and later that night I called [Wilt] and he told me the offer was there for me,” Neal said. “He was specifically saying how he liked my quickness and how I could get in and out of routes. But [Wilt] also said they like me as an athlete and think I can play either defensive back or receiver for them. Either way, it was great to hear and have the offer.”
Although Neal has only had a couple conversations with Wilt, the Bullis product has taken to his recruiter quite well.
“I can tell Coach Wilt is a great guy and a great personality. He’s one of my favorite coaches I’ve talked to,” Neal said. “I feel like when I get back to campus and can really talk to him, he’ll be like a father figure of sorts. That’s something to look forward to.”
Neal was last in College Park, Md., for the Ohio State-Terps game last fall. The Virginia native said even though UMD lost, he still had a great time with the other recruits and the Maryland coaches.
“It was the only [college] game I saw last year, and it was great. I really enjoyed myself,” Neal said. “I got a chance to see the campus, the facilities and all that. I really liked it at Maryland, and I could definitely see myself fitting in there.”
The two-way star has also heard plenty about the “hometown movement,” both from the class of 2016 Terps targets and from Wilt himself. Neal called DMV-to-UMD an “awesome idea” and something he’ll be paying attention to as the process moves along.
“It’s a great idea Maryland has, to sell the idea that they can win championships if the local guys stay put,” Neal said. “They’re pushing it hard, and I do like the idea a lot. I know [Wilt] definitely wants to get me on campus with my family so they can keep putting that idea out there. So I’m definitely looking forward to getting back; it’s a priority for me to get back there this summer.”
When Neal returns to College Park, it will be his first visit this offseason. The only other school he’s scheduled to see is Stanford, although other trips will undoubtedly crop up.
“I definitely want to see what Stanford’s about since they offered,” Neal said. “I don’t want to call Stanford a leader yet because it’s so early, but it’s definitely a prestigious school and terrific academics. Academics are very important to me, so it’s huge that Stanford wants me in their program.”
Besides the three verbals he currently holds, Neal said Duke, Boston College, Penn State, Virginia Tech and a couple more have been showing interest. The Blue Devils might be the next to offer, according to the Bullis product.
“Like I said, I’m not really looking for any particular offers and I don’t have any standouts yet,” Neal said. “I’m just going to keep working at my game and take the process in.”
Last year Neal started at both receiver and middle linebacker (out of necessity due to injury) for Bullis. He ended up with 112 tackles, three forced fumbles and two picks on defense, while leading the team with 46 receptions for 385 yards and six touchdowns on offense.
“It’s easy to be a great receiver when Dwayne [Haskins] is throwing you passes,” Neal said, chuckling. “Sometimes we talk about this whole DMV-to-UMD thing, and we joke about playing together at the next level. We’re having fun with it now, so it’ll be interesting to see if he winds up at Maryland and where I wind up.”
Rising Star Neal Humbled By Terps Offer
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