After taking what he called "a typical high school official visit" to UCLA two years ago, Fullerton (Calif.) College receiver DeAndre McNeal took another official visit to UCLA, but it was much different this time around.
McNeal visited UCLA in December of 2014 but would commit to Texas a week after his trip and play his freshman year with the Longhorns.
But after leaving the Texas program before the start of the 2016 season, he ended up in Southern California for college, just like he wanted to the year before.
“I wanted to do that coming out of high school,” said McNeal. “I wanted to go to UCLA, hands down, but my mother wanted me close to home. So I went to Texas.”
When McNeal left, he found Fullerton and would help lead them to a state championship this fall.
Despite UCLA losing out on McNeal two years ago, when he ended up at Fullerton, they began their pursuit of him again.
“Coach Yarbs (Eric Yarber) was recruiting me in high school and he wanted me then. They started recruiting me again so I took my visit there this weekend.”
This visit was more of a business trip for McNeal.
“It was different this time from the first time,” said McNeal. “The last time, it was a typical visit a high schooler takes. This time it was more business. I don’t have much time now. So I was asking about the statistics and Coach (Jedd) Fisch had a great presentation to explain how he wanted to use me and how many times I’d be targeted. But then I also wanted to see more what else I’d do when it wasn’t football, the academic side of things.”
McNeal will be a true junior in the fall, so the opportunity to leave for the NFL is there after the season.
“I have a possibility to declare after this year, so I had to talk about how they would utilize me and if I was doing what I’m supposed to do, would the NFL see the same,” said McNeal. “This time there, it was an eye-opener to see how much they need receivers. That is a huge, huge plus.”
“DA was my host and he was a really good host,” said McNeal. “I spent time with Soso and the other Texas guys. We’re all connected and we all had a great conversation.”
McNeal said, even if this was more of a business trip, he loved his time in Westwood.
“It was fun and it was very energetic and a really great visit overall,” said McNeal. “My grandpa was out there with me and my cousin was there too and making sure I do everything I’m supposed to do. They wanted to see the atmosphere and see L.A.”
McNeal said the season at Fullerton was good for him and for his mother.
“Being at Fullerton, from my standpoint, that was what I wanted to do coming out of high school, go to school in California. But coming out here to Fullerton, it just made my mom see too how good it was for me, seeing how I was living, being in Southern California, playing the sport I love,” said McNeal.
McNeal spent time with head coach Jim Mora on the visit and Mora will be coming through his Texas home this week.
“I love Coach Mora. He’s a great man. I’m setting up the home visit this week with Coach Mora, Coach Yarbs and Coach Fisch,” said McNeal.
McNeal said he’ll make a decision next week after he takes an official visit this weekend to Florida Atlantic.
“I’ll probably decide next Monday or Tuesday because I have one more visit to Florida Atlantic,” said McNeal. “Coach (Kendal) Briles and Coach (Lane) Kiffin are recruiting me and they recruited me in high school to Baylor and Alabama so I want to check them out and visit.”
McNeal will then sign on Signing Day and be on a college campus in time for spring.
“I will be able to sign on Signing Day and then enroll in time for spring ball,” said McNeal. “I’m a student of the game so being on campus for spring, being around the atmosphere and seeing how everything operates will be big for me. If you graduate early and get that spring in, you build a bond for the fall.”
And McNeal is ready to get on with his collegiate career.
“I’ve been doing this recruiting stuff since I was 14,” said McNeal. “At the beginning of the time, it was fun. But then every school offers the same thing. You hear it from everyone. I just want to get it done and play football.”