Video Breakdown DL Tyeson Neals
2016 STATS: 75 tackles, 12.0 sacks.
COMMITTED TO SMU OVER: SMU was his lone FBS offer. He committed on Jan. 29 at the conclusion of an official to SMU.
SIDE NOTE: Neals weighed 200 pounds at the end of 2015, which he redshirted. He is up to 235 pounds now and was named an NJCAA first-team All-American in 2016.
AUDIBLE: "I wasn't recruited heavily or have chances so it hasn't set in that I'm signing with a Division I program. At NEO, I worked my butt off to get accepted to SMU. It's surreal right now and a degree from SMU is just really, really good. My main goal is to get my degree."
How Neals fits
Neals is a pass rush specialist and will play the stand-up LEO rusher spot for SMU. It's not an every-down spot, but it's the same spot Michael Badejo played last year.
What Neals brings
Neals, an Oklahoma City native, played mostly stand-up rusher in his lone season at the junior college level. He brings some speed and quickness off the edge and shows good bend to get through blocks on the edge. While he's gained 35 pounds in the last year, he still looks a little lean and could struggle to get off blocks against bigger linemen. He's going to have to win with the quickness, agility and speed off the edge. He doesn't have much of a bull rush or many moves that rely on strength, but for the LEO position that relies on pass rushing and speed more than anything, that's OK.
What to expect sophomore year
Since Neals redshirted 2015 and played in 2016, he has three years of eligibility left. With Michael Scott now off the team and Toby Ndukwe working back from a torn ACL, SMU had only Michael Badejo at LEO and as a speed pass rusher. Badejo is someone SMU will count on even more, but entering 2017 with just him in the fold would have been risky. Neals provides some depth at the position and brings more pass rushing ability overall, which SMU needed. He and Badejo should compete for snaps at LEO, with both seeing the field regardless of who wins out.
Career expectations for Neals
Ndukwe and Badejo were two of the best players in their respective classes and can be building blocks for SMU on defense, but that doesn't mean Neals will be buried on the bench his entire career. SMU played 12 defensive linemen last year, and there's always a place for speed off the edge. Even if Neals isn't an every-down defensive end, he should still have a role on defense because of his pass-rushing ability.