Class of 2005 Prospect - MS OL Josh McNeil

Josh McNeil (6-foot-4, 275, 5.0), one of the top 100 players in the nation according to's team of recruiting analysts, talked with Gene's Page about his official visit to Mississippi State this weekend and recruiting in general.

Josh McNeil Profile

Before you started your official visit to Mississippi State this weekend, your team played Raleigh Friday night. How did you do?
"As far as team and my hustle, my parents and I thought that was the best game I have played all year. I only played the first half, but I think I had about 12 pancakes. I think I played pretty well. Raleigh was 6 and 2 and it was a big division game. My team went out there and handled our business."

Did you come on up to Starkville after the game or wait until Saturday morning?
"The game didn't get over until about 10:15, so we didn't get to Starkville until 2 to 2:30 o'clock that morning."

Who was your host?
"Chris (McNeil) was my host."

I guess that was unique for you since Chris is your brother.
"Yes sir. We sat around and talked football and hung out with a few of his friends. Well, I guess they are my friends, too, in a way. We got to spend a lot of time together and I really enjoyed that."

What was your Saturday like?
"We woke up at 7 o'clock so that we could go see the Dawg Walk. I got to give Chris a hug and tell him to have a good game and represent the family name well. And show everybody that I come from good pedigree. He definitely did his part. I got to go into the locker room a little before the game and talk to him. I also got to talk to big Corey (Clark), a former teammate, and Omarr (Conner) and a few of the other players."

Now, we are up to the game. Was it a little different for you since both teams are recruiting you, but one of them has your brother playing for them and the other one is one of your co-leaders, at least a co-leader based on your last two interviews on
"It was kind of a different feeling, but first of all I am going to be pulling for my brother 100%. It doesn't matter who my brother's team is playing, even if I like them, I hope they beat them by 50 points. During Chris' games, I separate the recruiting. I am there as a family member come to support my brother. But I was also looking at what each team is doing, offensive-wise, how their players and coaches act on the sidelines."

What did you think about the game itself?
"That was the best college game that I have ever seen in my life and it was one of the most physical. As far as the defense throwing licks, it was just a good ballgame."

Is that the kind of game you like to play in?
"With my type of playing style, I live for physical games. You hit me in my mouth, I'm going to hit you in yours. Somebody might be bigger and badder than me, but they aren't going to have my heart. I'm not going to stop until you are on the ground."

So, you and Quinton Culberson, a player who knocked a helmet off one the Gators' players, would get along really well?
"Yeah, but probably the most physical player on State's team is David Stewart, without a doubt. I'm going to tell you, he is a football player. I've seen him knock a couple of helmets off."

Once the game was over, what did you do at that point?
"It was kind of close there at the end, then they put 2 seconds back on the clock and I was freaking out. I was wanting it to be over. As soon as the game was over, I was practically running down the stands. I hopped over the fence and starting looking for big brother. I was kind of emotionally then and found him and we just kind of hugged. I kept on saying, 'you did it,' and he said, 'man, we did it Josh.' We both stood there and starting crying. It was a pretty special moment because I was so happy for him. I have been coming up there for the past three years and usually he would come out of the locker room with his head hanging down. Words can't describe how I felt then. It was tears of joy for both of us."

From there, didn't you go into the locker room? If so, did you get to listen to Coach Croom or did you have to leave?
"Yes, I got to listen to Coach Croom. He said, 'good win, this is what we have been working toward.' I was real happy to see my brother and all his teammates and my friends jumping around. It was a great sight to see."

After that, what did you guys do?
"After Coach Croom spoke, (Chris) got his shower and did the media thing. Me, him and his girlfriend went to his dorm room for a while and talked. Then, we met my parents and Coach Grimes at Harvey's for supper. That went real well. Then, me and him hung out that night."

When did you have your one-on-one meeting with Coach Croom?
"We got up and ate breakfast with Coach Croom at the (Mississippi State) cafeteria. Coach Grimes was also there. Then, we had the academic meetings where I discussed with academic people my major and things that it will take for me to achieve my goal of getting my degree. We had about an hour meeting with Coach Croom after that."

What did he say to you during the meeting?
"That is kind of the first time that I have gotten to sit down and really talk with him. He told me that it takes a special man to be at Mississippi State. You have to be willing to work hard, but the dividends of helping bring a program up to being a national contender will be a special thing and will take a special kind of recruit to do that. He said that my character and my athleticism will allow me to contribute right away and help Mississippi State get to where it needs to be."

Now that you have been around Coach Croom during an entire weekend, what are your feelings about him?
"The first thing about Coach Croom is he tells the truth. I respect him for that. He doesn't beat around the bush and try to make everything sound pretty. He tells you like it is. He is a great man. And he loves his players. There is no doubt in my mind about that. He loves his players on and off the field. He genuinely loves his players. It's like he has 120 children. He works them hard but he does that because he wants them to reach their full potential."

The last two interviews that you have done on you were quoted as saying that LSU and Florida are your co-leaders. Has Mississippi State, since the visit, moved back into the picture with those two?
"Everybody is all even now."

Who is everybody?
"LSU, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Florida State."

What has caused the change?
"I was very impressed with Mississippi State this weekend. Florida lost. I just feel that I need to slow down. I don't have a leader anymore. I'm just back to where everybody is on an even playing field."

Why were those two your leaders for a couple of weeks?
"It's hard to say why they were both my leaders. They were both winning a lot of games and I had been to both of their campuses. I really liked that they have really strong traditions, but I'm just going to have to put everybody back even and be honest and go with what my heart feels."

What did your heart feel Saturday when you were watching Mississippi State and Chris play?
"Words can't express how happy I was for my brother and a bunch of my friends on that team. I've known those guys for a very long time, four years; Richard Burch, David Stewart, and all them. I have known them since my freshman year. Their team has pretty much become a part of my family. That is like a bunch of my brothers up there and I was real happy for them."

What do those guys tell you when you visit Mississippi State?
"Usually, when I talk to a bunch of Chris' teammates, they tell me to come play there because they feel like I am already a part of their family anyway. I am kind of like everybody's little brother. We just talk like friends would talk, I guess."

Was State playing well yesterday something you needed to see after the past three years? Did you need to see something positive to make you believe if you sign with them that they can win while you are there?
"Yes sir, as a recruit, me seeing them beat a top-20 team, I definitely needed to see that. In a way it gave me the feeling that, if I do chose to go to Mississippi State, with Coach Croom and his staff going through a whole another year of putting in their offense, I will have a chance to be very successful. I think as a recruit I needed to see that they are building toward the future and are capable of winning big games and will continue winning big games. It reinforced in me what kind of heart they have and that they are moving the program in the right direction."

You still have three more official visits? When do you plan on making your decision?
"After I take my five visits, my goal is to make a decision before Christmas. I'm not one of these players who wants to drag it out just for the hype of the process. It's going to be a tough decision. I'm going to have to pray a lot and talk with my family. Hopefully, I will make the right decision for me."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by email at

Gene's Page Top Stories