Buford (Ga.) safety Tre Neal will always hold West Virginia is high regard. Since his recruitment has escalated over the last several weeks, the Mountaineers were to first to offer the talented athlete. That is something Neal says will always hold a special place with him.
"It shows me they were the first to take a chance on me, and I'll always thank them," Neal said. "I can always say I liked to go there. I talk to them so much and it really is something special and sentimental. They will always be in the mix for my services."
The Scout.com three-star athlete was caught up in a coaching staff change at West Virginia. His initial recruiter, Robert Gillespie, took a position at Tennessee. Since his departure, WVU wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway has taken over the reins. And while Neal is still getting to know the Mountaineer assistant, their bond is growing tighter every week.
"He seems like an upbeat coach," he said. "I actually called and talked with him last week and he was watching the NFL draft. We just talked about Tavon Austin and Geno Smith -- all former Mountaineers going in the draft. We just talk about everything and not just about recruiting …so it was nice."
Neal (6-foot-2, 185 lbs.) can play on both sides of the football. He's accustomed to playing both wide receiver and free safety, and each individual school has their preference as to where they like him best. At West Virginia, though, the Mountaineers are leaving the option open for Neal to decide. And while he doesn't necessarily have a reference, he just wants to see the field and help his future school win.
"I just really care about which will get me on the field the fastest," Neal said. "They (WVU) told me I could play either wide receiver or safety, whichever I wanted. I just want to play and win so whichever helps that happen the earliest."
"The thing I think about is how much I could get the ball if I were to play wide receiver at West Virginia," he continued. "Coming from Buford HS we don't really throw the ball much because we have such a good run game. The offense would be more spread out and no huddle. I would get the ball a lot more in my hands so that's intriguing."
While WVU was the first to offer that hasn't stopped other schools from jumping into the mix. Over the last couple weeks numerous schools have begun to show interest and Charlotte, South Florida and East Carolina have extended offers. For now, though, Neal is focusing on the schools standing out to him and hoping to finalize the process of a commitment.
"I'm going to start cutting down on teams sometime before the summer starts and decide where I want to go before my senior year," Neal said. "West Virginia will definitely be a school that makes my final cut. I would also add Southern Miss and Central Florida because they show me the most interest in my recruitment."
Though plans to visit West Virginia aren't finalized just yet, Neal admits that's something he'll be doing this summer.
"I know for a fact I'll be visiting West Virginia this summer," Neal said. "I'll actually be coming with my teammate, Thomas Wilson, who also has an offer from WVU. So I don't know exactly when but we'll definitely be coming."