One week has yielded three commitments for Syracuse football. Three-star athlete Moe Neal out of Forestview High in Gastonia (N.C.) announced his commitment to Syracuse on Saturday in front of friends and family. He had been down to the Orange and Wake Forest, but Syracuse won out.
He spoke with Scout before announcing his decision to detail why Syracuse was the best fit.
”I picked Syracuse because I felt like it was the home for me,” Neal said. “I found a home ten hours away and I just felt the vibe when I went up there for the visit. I had a good time with all of the players. Had a great talk with the coaches. It just felt right. That’s why I decided to go to Syracuse.”
Syracuse assistant DeAndre Smith has been Neal’s primary recruiter. The two have developed a strong relationship, as has Neal with the entire staff. Getting to know the coaches better during his most recent visit last month was a big factor in ultimately choosing the Orange.
”It was a big factor,” Neal said. “I’m coming in and even though I’m a freshman, they expect me to make an impact early and often. They said I’m that guy that can make big plays when needed. I hope I step in and fill that role as a true freshman. You could say that was a big factor, them wanting me to come in early and contribute.”
The express back role that Neal will be playing for Syracuse is one that was also intriguing. The coaching staff could envision him having a Percy Harvin type of role where he does a variety of things with the ball, lines up in different spots in the formation and creates mismatches.
It gives him an opportunity to make plays in the passing game out of the slot as well as in the running game on jet sweeps or taking hand-offs as a traditional running back from time to time. He believes it’s a perfect fit for his skill set.
”Just being thought of as that guy who can do both, I like doing both,” Neal said. “I don’t really have a set position that I like the most, running back or slot. I like to do both. Returning kicks and punt returns. Then being considered in the same sentence as Percy Harvin, it’s an honor because he’s a guy that did it at Florida and still does it today in the National Football League.”
The Robert Washington factor cannot be ignored. He and Neal are close friends that have often discussed playing together at the next level. Now those discussions have become a reality with Neal’s pledge.
”We always thought about playing together,” he said. “I would love to play with Robert and it’s going to be fun playing with him, but I had to make the decision for myself. I really didn’t make the decision because of him, I had to like the school too since I’m going to be there.
”It’s going to be an honor playing with Robert and the other big time recruits. Growing up with him, working out together, it’s going to be fun.”
When Neal visited Syracuse in July, it was his second trip to Central New York. This time, he had his dad with him. Having his dad like the school and feel like it was a good fit for his son was also of critical importance to the three-star athlete.
”It was real important,” Neal said. “Just knowing he was signing off on me and him sending me away up there. It’s just a good feeling knowing your parents are behind you.”
Neal is ranked as the 56th best athlete in the 2016 class and the top athlete in North Carolina. He chose Syracuse over offers from Wake Forest, Boston College, Duke, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, NC State and West Virginia among others.
As a sophomore, he rushed for 1,035 yards with 16 touchdowns. He added 785 receiving yards and 10 more scores. As a junior last season, he surpassed those numbers with 2,018 rushing yards, 549 receiving yards, 29 rushing touchdowns and nine touchdown catches. You can watch his junior highlights below.