"He has really grown to be a very physical player," Davie County head coach Doug Illing said. "When he walks into a room, you can tell he's a big guy. But sometimes big guys aren't physical and are lazy, but he's not a lazy kid and he's a very physical player. He just wants to bury you – he has that type of mentality. And on top of that he has a lot of strength to go with it. He has done a good job to manage his weight and use his intensity to his advantage."
McNeill began his freshmen year on junior varsity. However three games into the season, an injury to Davie County's starting varsity left tackle not only forced McNeill to be promoted to that squad, but also thrust him into the starting lineup at left tackle.
Halfway through his sophomore season, McNeill suffered a concussion. When he returned to action a week later he was moved to right tackle, a position he has held since.
Last fall, McNeill and Cole Blankenship, a 2013 offensive lineman who is verbally committed to NC State, formed bookend tackles for Davie County.
"Last year we had the luxury of having two ACC offensive linemen," Illing said. "We liked to block the backside with Cole, so we put him at left tackle and then have Trip at right, which gave us the ability to run either way. We even paired them up together – we'd put Cole at tight end [next to McNeill] and run outside zone and power to them.
"This year, we'll probably lean on Trip a lot more, because we'll be young and inexperienced. Where he is will be a pretty good indicator of where we're going."
While in Naples, Fla. for a football camp, McNeill received a phone call from Illing.
"He said he was at a coaching camp and UNC was there," McNeill said. "They really liked my film and they wanted me to come down to give them a visit."
McNeill contacted Chris Kapilovic, UNC's offensive line coach, and they set up an August visit where McNeill was able to watch a Tar Heel preseason practice.
"I liked the fast pace practice that they had there," McNeill said. "I got the whole tour and it was a beautiful campus. And then Coach [Kapilovic] brought us back to the coaches' office, we sat down, and talked to me and my mom for a little bit. He said, ‘We really like you, we really like the film, and wanted to meet you in person before we offered you. So you have an offer from UNC."
McNeill has also collected scholarship offers from Duke, East Carolina, NC State, Virginia, and Wake Forest.
During the football season, McNeill returned to Chapel Hill for arguably UNC's best games of the season – versus NC State and Virginia Tech.
"Those were great experiences," McNeill said. "The one time I was actually walking up from the field after pregame and one of the frat boys shook my hand and said ‘I see you being a Tar Heel next year.' Of course, that couldn't happen, because I was only a junior, but it was still cool.
"I like the Tar Pit with all the students and how as soon as [the team] gets done with warm-ups, they can jump up and get padded up by the student body. I like the close connection with the student body. It was very unique."
McNeill has visited every school that has offered him at least once, except East Carolina, and plus Clemson.
"They all have their little unique things that stick out," McNeill said. "So it's hard to really narrow it down."
In spite of the lack of favorite schools, McNeill would like to be verbally committed by the end of the school year – before his senior year at the latest.
"Distance is important to me," McNeill said. "The way they treat the players and the tutors and everything like that [is also important]. Having engineering – I want to be an electrical engineer – that's going to factor in. And just the whole feeling I get of being there [will be a factor]."
McNeill didn't begin playing football until the eighth grade… Davie County has developed a pipeline into the Division I-A ranks. McNeill says none of those connections will factor into his recruitment… McNeill has several family connections to schools – two uncles that graduated from UNC, a cousin who went to NC State before finishing her degree at Wake Forest, another cousin who swims for South Carolina, two aunts that are NC State alumna, his mother and another aunt graduated from East Carolina, and his mother works at Wake Forest… McNeill throws the shot put and discus for Davie County's track and field team. He holds the school freshmen record in the shot put and missed the sophomore record by six inches.