Yorktown (IN) quarterback Riley Neal is flying under the Midwest radar currently, but if his team turns in more performances like its 49-0 domination of Muncie Southside Friday night the 2015 signal caller won’t be a secret for very long.
“I feel like I’ve progressed a lot from last year,” Neal said after his 266-yard, two-TD performance. “Not just me through. Our line’s progressed. (Senior running back) Chandler (Carroll), obviously you saw him first, second and (then) third play of the game on offense busting (a) 75 yard touchdown. So, we’ve just gotten better as a team.”
Neal’s coach Mike Wilhelm has certainly seen signs of his 6-6 field general’s maturation. After a summer of attending camps at Michigan, Miami, Cincinnati and Indiana Neal’s consistency and leadership have both improved.
“When he goes to those places and learns from some great college coaches he brings that to what we’re trying to do here,” Wilhelm stated. “He just shows that confidence and his teammates believe he is going to get it done.”
“I think for him the big thing is his pre-snap read has gotten a lot better. He has an idea where he wants to go before we snap the ball. Then overall he is willing to not go to that first guy. He is willing to go to #2 and #3. That is where his improvement has come.”
Michigan is among the schools currently monitoring Neal’s development. The Wolverines first became aware of the rising Hoosier State talent thanks in large part to a familial connection.
“Coach Hoke used to coach at Ball State… and he was my dad’s coach in high school too,” Neal explained. “So I’ve always kind of followed him throughout his career. And it’s a great school too. So there are a lot of things you could like there.”
He had the opportunity to experience many of those things during his time at the Wolverines annual summer camp back in June.
Said Neal, “(The camp) was real good. It was about five days long. It was good. I got to spend some one-on-one time with Al Borges. He taught me a lot. It just furthered my game and my development.”
“He just told me he wants to see me progress my game from last year. See how much better I can get. He talks a lot about winning games in the fourth quarter…making plays when it counts.”
Borges has remained in contact with Neal over the past few months, and thus far the steady interest from the Maize & Blue definitely stands out.
“Michigan’s been talking to me a lot and Miami just a little bit,” Neal reported. “I haven’t talked to (the Hurricanes) near as much, but they told me they’d try to get down to a game this year if they could. But definitely more Michigan than Miami.”
“I’d love to hear something from Cincinnati. I’ve been a lifelong Indiana fan too. So that’d be great.”
Western Michigan and Ball State are others showing interest, but Neal has yet to pick up any offers at this early stage of his recruitment. Even so, he has already identified the criteria by which he will evaluate those that eventually do.
“Academics are a big one, obviously,” he said. “I mean, football too… tradition. Michigan’s tradition is awesome. Western Michigan is another school that’s been talking to me. I went up to visit there. So academics, a personal relationship with the coaches, football facilities… just a little bit of everything.”
At the moment Neal’s primary focuses are improving his game and leading his team to prominence. He plans to sort through recruiting when interest from his suitors becomes more definitive. To date his recruitment has progressed enough for him to have developed a list of favorites, but one of the programs courting him has clearly made an impression.
“I like Michigan a lot,” said Neal.