Don Callahan/Inside Carolina

Two Safe to Make Four-Star DE Alim McNeill's Cut

The four-star defensive end discusses the impact of Chris Collins's commitment and his most recent UNC visit.

Four-star defensive end Alim McNeill will streamline his list of 35 scholarship offers to ten schools within the next two weeks. A pair of in-state programs, North Carolina and NC State, are already guaranteed a seat at the table.

"It's just the people there," McNeill said of UNC and NCSU. "I like the coaches there a lot. And the opportunity I have there is really the biggest thing."

Once he has his finalists, McNeill, a 6-foot-3, 270-pounder from Raleigh (N.C.) Sanderson, will focus on those ten -- which includes visiting them -- with the goal of making a verbal commitment sometime in June.

Unsurprisingly, McNeill has visited UNC and NC State more than any other schools.

"It's not only [their proximity], they both ask me to come over more because they want to show me something," McNeill said.

Between the two, McNeill has taken more trips to NC State -- where he doesn't have to leave his hometown -- primarily because the Wolfpack coaching staff has been recruiting him since his freshman year. Meanwhile, the Heels began pursuing him a year ago.

Originally, McNeill said he wanted to attend college within a reasonable driving distance from his home. He has since relaxed that requirement.

"Now, it's just wherever is the best fit," McNeill said. "It became different once [my recruitment] blew up."

On Saturday, McNeill took a short drive down I-40 to UNC. Having already visited three times this offseason, he arrived with two objectives in mind: talk football with defensive line coach Deke Adams and see the dorms.

Per McNeill, the meeting with Adams was the focal point of Saturday's visit. McNeill wanted to leave with a complete understanding of UNC's defensive scheme and concepts.

"He went over their film that they have from the spring," McNeill said. "And then he just shot me through a little presentation on calls they make and different schemes they set up for different plays and different downs.

"I liked it a lot. I liked how their D-linemen there aren't just decoys -- they're attacking D-linemen who get to the ball and make plays. That's the type of defense I want to be a part of."

For Sanderson, McNeill plays linebacker -- plus running back -- where he finished the 2016 season with 84 tackles, including 18 for a loss and six sacks. According to McNeill, Adams hasn't singled out one specific position. Adams has left the door open for McNeill to play defensive end, defensive tackle, plus outside and inside linebacker.

"He has said he hasn't had [a player] like me yet," McNeill said.

During his three prior offseason visits, McNeill saw much of UNC's campus. However, all previous tours skipped the dorms. To compensate, he received a detailed look at its students' living arrangements on Saturday.

"All that was nice," McNeill said. "Everything was nice."

Towards the end of his stay, McNeill spoke briefly with Larry Fedora.

"He was just saying, 'What's up,'" McNeill said. "He asked me how I'm doing. He gave me a little pitch saying, 'UNC is the best place.' But really, it was just conversing over normal stuff."

Already, McNeill's calendar has a fourth offseason UNC visit scheduled -- Fedora's Freak Show in June. Otherwise, he doesn't have any other recruiting visits planned.

On Monday, UNC received a verbal commitment from Chris Collins, another D-line prospect. After the announcement, Collins vowed to recruit McNeill for the Heels. As of Wednesday evening, McNeill had yet to speak to Collins since his commitment.

"I would love to play with him," McNeill said. "I know that we could be devastating playing side-by-side. [His commitment] makes a really big impact on me, I'm not going to lie. I like that a lot."

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