Natural centers are hard to come by because most of the time college teams just take a high school offensive lineman and convert him to center. But when a guy like Josh McNeil comes along that has played center all of his life at such a high level, then college coaches take notice.
McNeil stepped into the starting line-up at Collins as a freshman at 228 pounds, and that was quite an experience for him.
"It was a little difficult when I was a freshman because I was 14 years old playing against 17-year-olds," said McNeil. "There are a lot of big boys in Mississippi and it was hard to push them around. I was tall and lanky in ninth grade and I never got into the weight room, so I had trouble putting on weight. Now, I am in the weight room all the time and my body has filled out quite a bit."
McNeil had 116 pancake blocks last season, and he also deep snaps on field goals and punts. McNeil can bench 365 pounds, squats 500 and he has a 29-inch vertical jump.
McNeil has attended the Ole Miss and Mississippi State summer camps in the past and he hopes to take unofficial visits to Florida and several other schools this summer. He has been offered by 15 schools thus far, and he is in the process of trying to sort through them all.
"I am really interested in everybody who has extended a scholarship offer," said McNeil. "The recruiting process has been fun and it is enjoyable to talk to the all the coaches and to meet new people and everything. Right now I can't say that I really have an favorite. All of my schools are big time offers from great schools, so I need to really study them before I start to narrow down that list.
"I like Oklahoma, but they haven't offered me yet because they haven't seen me. I sent film to them and Coach (Kevin) Wilson said that they don't offer offensive linemen before seeing them in person, so I am looking forward to meeting Coach Wilson. Oklahoma is one of the top schools every year and they are always in the running for the national championship. I would definitely be interested in them.
"I don't mind going out of state. I am going to go to the best school for me and where I can fit in the best."
McNeil has been offered by Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Georgia, Florida, LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Clemson, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Southern Miss, West Virginia and Marshall. McNeil has qualified.