Michael McNeil: 'It just felt right"

Some are looking for a ton of opportunities. Some are looking for an instantaneous shot to the top of the depth chart. Ask any recruit what matters most to them about the school of their future, you could get any number of answers. For Michael McNeil, he cares about those things, but in the end, for all the potential he saw of himself with the Huskers, what ultimately tipped the scales was that it was just a place that felt like it was where he needed to be.

A tight end that can stretch the field is often than of more as a physical wideout than anything. Someone you take over the middle at will, but if you need to, there's the potential to go deep. The thing is, when most schools think of these so-called "true" tight ends, they are much bigger, possession guys that run a lot of short routes and will block a lot more than they will ever have the chance to receive.

That wasn't what Kirkwood, Missouri's Michael McNeil was looking for. He wanted to do everything he thought he could do and based on the early part of the season for the Huskers last year, he saw something that fit his cup of tea. "Matt Herian had just a great year last year before he got injured," Michael said of the Husker tight end, who had his season ended with a broke leg last year. "You saw him run deep a lot and you saw how they liked to use him as much as they could."

That's a dream for a tight end who fancies himself similar in his role or at least the role he'd like for his collegiate future. And based on his 44 receptions for over 800 yards and six touchdowns as a junior, you'd probably agree.

When McNeil took his official visit to Nebraska this weekend, he wasn't sure that he'd see that kind of performance, because for one, Herian is still rehabbing, the coaches hoping he'd be back by the time conference play begins. And based on a conversation McNeil himself had with the coaches, he actually didn't think that what they wanted ultimately for the tight end position was what he would ultimately see.

"The coaches told me they had two categories for tight ends," Michael said. "Matt and myself were in the one and guys like (J.B.) Phillips were in the other. One type that is bigger and the other that can stretch the field."

"I saw how they used Matt last year and the fact that if he plays this year, next season will be his last and I saw the opportunities were there."

That's important for any young man out of the prep ranks as like everyone else, he's trying to get on the field. Even with a season of high school ball to go, their role and when they see themselves playing it is still a vital key in the decision.

What McNeil's decision came down to, though, was when he said that he was indeed going to be a Husker, the offense played a part, the depth chart played some as well, but what he liked the most were the people that recruited him to NU.

"I just felt so comfortable with the coaches," he said. "The whole time I've talked to them, as I have gotten to know them, it's been like this is just where I was supposed to be."

"All the other stuff is great, but it was really this feeling that this was a real tight group and they cared, so that was good enough for me."

Amidst the game atmosphere in Memorial Stadium, McNeil was like many: impressed.

When experiencing the tunnelwalk, Michael was much like many: in awe

And when he got to see not just the facilities that were there, but the ones going up, he was blown away. "Those are just crazy," Michael said of the new facilities being built. "I mean, it's like nothing I've ever seen. It's just unreal some of the stuff they are going to have when it's all finished."

McNeil will be there when that happens, going into his freshman year with the Huskers. Until then, though, he's got a season to play. It's nice to think that now he can do it without having to worry about all of this extra stuff and it's even nicer to know just where he'll finally be.

"It wasn't a real hard decision for me, but I am glad it's done," he said. "I can think about my season, watch Nebraska play this year and just enjoy my last year here."

"I love what they are doing there at Nebraska. Between the facilities, all the players that just all got along so well and the fans, I can't imagine where else I would want to be."

"It just felt like I hoped it would feel."

McNeil makes the 6th commitment of the class of 2006 and the second out of the state of Missouri. He joins future quarterback of Nebraska, Grandview, Missouri's Josh Freeman.


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