football

Teams turning up the heat on McNeil

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Rivals100 safety Michael McNeil from Mobile (Ala.) Davidson has received plenty of attention in the way of phone calls since Friday, the first day college coaches were allowed to call again per NCAA rules. In an exclusive interview with Rivals.com, the four-star prospect talked about two programs that are on him the hardest, some future unofficial visits and the start to the 2006 season.
While he didn't go on the record with any leaders, the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder is having good feelings about two teams that have long been in the running for his services.
"I know I'm feeling real good about Florida State and Alabama right now because they've been showing me a lot of attention and telling me about their program," McNeil said. " But what I am trying to do is take some unofficial visits early and see some games so I can see the atmosphere get a feel for the players."
McNeil plans to make an unofficial visit next week. What is unclear is his destination.
"Next weekend, I am either going to Florida State-Troy or Alabama-Vanderbilt," McNeil said.
Whenever he gets down to Tallahassee, it will be a first for the state of Alabama's third-ranked prospect.
"I've never been to see an actually Florida State game," McNeil said. Even though I grew up such a big fan, I have never been there to see things like Chief Osceola ride on his horse with the flaming spear, things like that."
The Seminoles, along with the in-state Crimson Tide, have been showing strong interest of late.
"Alabama and Florida State have been turning up the heat," he said.
The Crimson Tide coaches have made it clear that they want McNeil.
"Yesterday, I talked to coach Chris Ball and coach Buddy Wyatt and also Coach Mike Shula," McNeil said. "Every time I talk to coach Ball he tells me "Mike, I want to coach you," because he got a chance to see me work at the Alabama camp. I know how Alabama feels about me. They tell me that they want me real bad. They are graduating Jeff Dukes, so the safeties coming up will be in the mix."
Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews was one of the first coaches to make contact with McNeil on Friday.
"I received my first calls," McNeil said. "The first person to call was coach Charlie Strong from Florida, then coach Ed Orgeron from Ole Miss, coach Andrews and all of the coaches from Alabama and Auburn."
The conversations with Andrews have been on a variety of topics.
"Coach Andrews has been sending me text messages every day," McNeil said. "Every time I talk to a coach, I asked him where I am at on their board. Coach Andrews has been telling me that if I were to commit to them that he's not recruiting safeties anymore, he's through. We talked about the scheme of things and how he'd be running his defense. He's also been telling me about certain kind of lifts to do. Football is a contact sport, you know, so I have to build my strength."
McNeil plans to catch Monday night's Florida State-Miami (Fla.) game.
"I'm going to watch it on television," he said. "I watch all of their games."
McNeil also has been in touch with coaches from Auburn.
"I talked shortly with Coach James Willis earlier today," he said. "I haven't talked to coach Will Muschamp since my visit."
McNeil showed why he is one of the top prospects in the country during his team's game Thursday night.
"We had a game Thursday night had a big turnout," he said. "We had a team we usually go out there and blow out. But we took them likely as a team. Our cornerback got hurt in pregame and didn't play a snap. At the end of the game with eight seconds left, we got beat over the top. I play the wide side of the field, so I came over and I hit the guy with the ball and he flew out and the ball flew out as well."
McNeil, the nation's No. 5 safety prospect, finished the game with seven tackles.
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