O'Neal's path to Big Orange Country was perilous and replete with potholes. He played at Skyline High School in Oakland, Calif., where he was ranked No. 8 among wide receivers by Scout.com in the Class of 2004. He caught 36 passes for 860 yards and 24 touchdowns (4 of those TDs were on kick returns.) as senior in the fall of 2003, and the next spring set the California state high school record in the 60 meters.
After being offered by a host of west coast schools, O'Neal signed with Florida State in 2004 and was fitted for a redshirt that first fall in Tallahassee due to delays in determining his status by the NCAA Clearinghouse. The following season he caught five passes for 110 yards and compiled 503 yards on 21 kick returns, an average of 24 yards per return. However he didn't break the two-deep rotation and left FSU last spring.
His decision to enroll in City College of San Francisco (the same school that produced Gibril Wilson), instead of a Division I school, leaves O'Neal with two years to play two seasons. His ability to stretch defenses should give him a leg up in the competition for playing time. O'Neal, who turns 21 next May, could also be a candidate to return kicks.
With the addition of O'Neal to a signing class that already includes five-star wide receiver Brent Vinson, who is attending Hargrave Military Academy, Tennessee has two worthy candidates with more seasoning than a prospect coming directly from high school. Should Meachem decide to return to college he'd have some protection in the lineup from double coverage. Likewise the running game gets a boost via a speedster who can back up safeties.
"Teams play me way off, because they know that if they go "man" on me, that could up being a bad thing," he told Steve Ryan of BigRedReport.com. "I see all kinds of stuff at the line of scrimmage, but they don't play me one-on-one much. I see bump-n-run, I know what I am going to do."
The only time he can recall seeing press coverage this fall he burned the defense for a 72-yard touchdown. On the year, O'Neal led CC of SF with 48 receptions for 707 yards and an average of 78.56 yards per outing.
On his second trip down the recruiting trail O'Neal has attracted an assortment of impressive scholarship offers, including Minnesota, Nebraska and Tennessee. He was also being pursued by USC, but chose the Vols who were the first to offer.
His younger brother Kyler O'Neal runs a reported time of 10.6 in the 100 meters and plays linebacker for McClymonds High School in Oakland. The senior could decide to follow his older brother to Tennessee.
The swift siblings are the sons of Kenny O'Neal Sr., who played tight end for the New Orleans Saints.