June 25, 2012

'Thinking and praying'

ATLANTA - There is absolutely no reason that Hillside (Durham, N.C.) tight end Josh McNeil should be participating in elite prospect camps such as the Rivals100 Five Star Challenge and The Opening.

Just two years ago, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound prospect was 100 percent focused on improving him game as a basketball player, and knew nothing about the game of football.

At this point, McNeil is still learning to play the game, but one would have to be blind to miss his natural ability between the white lines.

"It's still new to me and I'm still learning about this game with it being my first year playing football and all," said McNeil. "I'm still figuring things out, but I know that I'm athletic enough to go out there and make plays. It's coming a long good, and I know I made the right decision by giving up basketball."

There are no bigger honors in the recruiting world than to be invited to the best camps in the country, and as unbelievable as it sounds to those following the star tight end's recruitment, it is also a bit surprising to McNeil as well.

"It's like a dream come true for me," he said. "One of my teammates went to The Opening last year and he has really prepared me for what it is like. I hear it is great. Everything I have seen here at the Five Star Challenge is really nice and a dream come true for me."

Having the chance to go against and rub shoulders with the top talent in the country is high praise, but that isn't where it stops with McNeil.

In addition to being named a four star recruit by Rivals.com, McNeil also has offers from some of the biggest programs in the country.

After putting a great deal of thought and time into the process, the Tarheel State star has it narrowed down to two schools that are known for making the tight end a big part of the offense.

"I have it down to Alabama and Georgia right now," said McNeil. "Those are the two schools that stand out for me because of how comfortable I was when I went down there. Coach (Nick) Saban at Alabama and really all of the Georgia coaches just made me feel comfortable. They showed me a good time and were 100 percent honest with me. There were no bumps in the road or anything like that. They just kept it real."

While those two schools are fighting hard for the four star tight end's pledge that will take place on July 5 at the opening in Eugene, Oregon, McNeil says that he won't take any more visits before he makes his decision.

"I'm pretty much done with traveling before I decide," he said. "I'm just going to think on it and pray on it and see where God leads me to go."

With two schools in the mix, and no more visits until he decides, the million dollar question is which school has is on top?

Those who have followed his recruitment may think one team leads, but, according to the Hillside standout, the race couldn't be any closer.

"No team leads for me right now and they are really neck and neck," said McNeil. "I mean, me and Coach (John) Lilly have a really close bond. I know most people think Alabama has the edge, but if anyone has the edge right now it is Georgia because of Coach Lilly."

McNeil understands that being recruited is something that almost every high school athlete wants and works toward, but after having a chance to take it all in, the process is also a little tougher than most think.

"I would have to say this is all pretty stressful," said McNeil. "It is a great opportunity to have, but I have a hard time sleeping at night thinking about my decision and where I want to go. It can be tough."

July 5 is quickly approaching, but McNeil already knows how he will approach his decision from a mental standpoint in the next couple of weeks.

"I'm just going to wait it out and think on it," said McNeil. "I'm just going to think on it, and pray on it."

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