Change of Direction

When Chris Neild was preparing to make the trip from Stroudsburg, Pa., to Morgantown, W. Va., he admitted that West Virginia wasn't in the forefront of his thinking.

"Coming in to this visit I wasn't expecting to feel this way about West Virginia at all," admitted Neild, who has had Syracuse and Georgia Tech as his top two for much of the recruiting process. "But, this visit just made a great impact. When I thought of West Virginia, my first thought was ‘country'. But when I got there, and I got to see the town and the school, it really hit me. This is a true college town, and I liked that."

The atmosphere wasn't the only thing that got Neild's attention.

"Every coaching staff you meet is dynamic, but these guys caught my attention in a way that's tough to explain," said the well-spoken defender, who nonetheless struggled to put into words the feelings and impressions he got at West Virginia. "When I was there, I just felt more comfortable than anywhere else. It was just the experience of being there and seeing it all."

Neild was "feeling it" so much that he ended up committing to West Virginia before leaving – a surprising decision that will certainly take some observers by surprise. It wasn't a snap decision, however. Both of his parents accompanied him on his trip, and fully concurred in his decision.

"They left the decision up to me," said Neild. "They went on all my visits, and they would tell me what they saw and what they liked and didn't like, but they stayed in the background. They are both happy with this decision."

One of the clinching factors may have been the information he got from his host, fellow Pennsylvanian Doug Slavonic.

"I learned a lot about WVU from the players, but I got the chance to talk to him a lot," said Neild. "He's from Pennsylvania, and I asked him how the transition is coming donw here. He said it's not a big problem, that once you get settled in everything is fine."

Neild had a visit scheduled to North Carolina State for the weekend of Jan. 20, but said he will not take that trip.

"I'm finished visiting now, and I won't take any more visits. I am solid with West Virginia."

Neild, who could fit at several different positions, will likely get his first look at West Virginia as a nose guard. His excellent speed and love of contact, which he displayed as a linebacker for Stroudsburg High School, could be great assets in the trenches.

"West Virginia talked with me about playing nose, and I won't have a problem with that at all. I just want to get on field. This team is a young team, and it might be difficult to have a chance to get in and get early playing time, but I will bust my hump to get in there. Anything I can do to help us win, I will. That's the important thing."

Neild, who is interested in sports management, will have no trouble qualifying.

Chris Neild Profile

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