August 10, 2010

McNeil looking to stay close to home

Dallas A. Maceo Smith safety LaDarrell McNeil shapes up to be the rarest of prospects on the high school level - a four year starter. The 6 foot 1, 190 pound McNeil was the district freshman of the year for 2008 with 89 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and four sacks. He followed that up with 73 tackles, 12 pass breakups, and four sacks in making all district in last season.

Despite NCAA regulations that allow minimal contact between schools and prospects prior to their junior year in high school, McNeil's play has already secured the attention of colleges across the Big 12 area and the remainder of the country as well. He has been receiving invitations to camps up to now and starting Sept. 1 (the first day that schools that can offer prospects in the class of 2012) he is expecting to start receiving even more attention from college programs. But even Sept. 1 is in the distant future for McNeil, given the fact that he and his teammates have already started August workouts and have a scrimmage against Fort Worth Southwest this Saturday night.

"We already started last Monday," he said. "We just got in pads on Friday. We start real fast because we play week zero and week one. We are going to be experienced this year. We are not too young, mostly juniors and some seniors."

In Smith's defense, McNeil plays both free and strong safety. However, he spends most of his time at free safety which means that he has had a lot of responsibilities for someone who had been an underclassman.

"We basically play everything (zone and man to man)," he said. "We have a system where we have to read the offense and play off of what they do. If we are in cover four, I'll tell someone that they have man or zone. I have to check the linebackers to tell them to blitz or cover. I had to learn it my freshman year. I got it down. It's easy now.

"I spend some time on offense too but I just like playing football, period. I can hit if you want me to. I can cover if you want me to. I don't have a favorite position. I just like to play football."

McNeil stated that colleges in and around Texas like A&M, Texas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State are sending him mail. He has been to just one camp so far this summer.

"It was at Texas" he said. "I liked it. It was pretty decent. I liked the defensive backs coach, coach Akina. He really didn't say much. I could tell that he liked me. I liked the way that he was coaching me, things that he was telling me. He helped me more on my backpedal. I saw the campus too. I thought it was real interesting. They have more new stuff than I have ever seen."

Does McNeil have any favorites?

"There are not any (favorites) right now," he said. "I am getting closer to that. I don't have anyone as my top schools but as I get closer to my season I will eliminate teams I can't play for, like those that are at a distance from my house. A good education, a good community, and someplace I like the football program are what I want. I need a program that is going to have my head in the books and that will have me working hard. I want to stay close to home and be no more than four or five hours away."

Are there any schools that fit those criteria?

"I haven't visited a lot of them," he said. "Right now it's Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma. That's about it right now. I haven't just seen a lot or been anywhere. I have just been hearing players that have been telling me about things. That's about all. I have been getting mail. That's it. I talk to people around my neighborhood that have been to college and players that have gone off to college like Anthony Wallace (Dallas Skyline linebacker in the class of 2011). My brother Vincent McNeil played in junior college. He is going to be a big part of my decision. I talk to my coaches about specific schools."

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