Offensive tackle Raiqwon O'Neal (Conway, S.C.) has seen his recruiting rise exponentially since the evaluation period began. The 6-foot-5, 275-pounder had one power-five offer from Kentucky prior to the spring and now has looks from Illinois, Mississippi State, Maryland, Louisville, Michigan State and Wake.
The Terps' offer came in May 12 courtesy of line coach Tyler Bowen.
"Maryland, this was my first time really hearing from them, but it was a great offer to get. It's a good Big Ten school," O'Neal said. "I don't know much about them yet, but I'm doing some research. I know they have my major, which is graphic design, so that's great. But Coach Bowen is going to be taking me through everything later on. He knew I had a track meet [May 12], so we'll be talking later on."
Although it was O'Neal's first time talking to Bowen the two developed an instant connection.
"I really liked him. He was really energetic," O'Neal said. "I'm hoping to get to know him more and to meet him. He sounds like a great coach."
O'Neal is in the research phase with most of his new looks, though. He currently has no leaders and said he won't begin to have standouts until he takes some visits.
"But right now I'd say Louisville, West Virginia, Maryland, Wake, Illinois and Mississippi State jump out," O'Neal said. "Then some other schools have been through here to see me that I like. Penn State was in and so was Georgia. Hopefully they offer."
So far, O'Neal has been to Wake, UNC, Sourh Carolina and Coastal. Wake has his eye since the coaches have offered.
"Wake was a real nice campus and I loved the coaching staff. It's a good school academically too," said O'Neal, who will be returning to Wake June 3. "But I also really liked both UNC and South Carolina. South Carolina has been talking to me mostly."
Louisville is another early standout. O'Neal said he's heard great things about the Cardinals and is "really excited" to visit.
Besides UL, O'Neal wants to see Maryland, WVU, Illinois, Michigan State and Mississippi State this offseason, in addition to any other major programs that offer.
O'Neal Is hoping some other offers come through as well. He said a Gamecocks' verbal could change his situation, in addition to looks from Penn State and Va Tech. Ohio State, meanwhile, has initiated contact and is O'Neal's dream school.
"I'm really hoping for Penn State and Tech," he said. "They're both talking to me. They would be huge. We'll see about Ohio State. I've been watching them since I was two. And South Carolina and UNC would be huge."
O'Neal Wants to take summer visits before forming any sort of leaderboard. He then would like to embark on officials and pick a school during of after his senior season.
He said the main factors in his decision would be education, relationship with the coaches and the campus environment. Location is not a primary concern for O'Neal.