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5-star T Evan Neal still taking time with decision as mom pushes for Miami

5-star T Evan Neal still taking time with decision as mom pushes for Miami

David Wilson
BRADENTON -- Evan Neal knows it's not exactly a secret where most of his family would like to see him wind up at the next level. The 5-star tackle grew up a Miami fan, has family which has played for the Hurricanes and grew up closer to Coral Gables than either of the other Big 3 Florida schools.

And, of course, his mother is a factor, too. Even from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Neal talks to his parents every night about his potential college decision. Almost very night, his mother makes her voice heard.

"If it was up to her," Neal said Wednesday at IMG's media day in Bradenton, "I'd already be committed to Miami."

This isn't exactly new news. Neal first mentioned his mother's fixation on the Hurricanes almost a year ago after he visited Hard Rock Stadium for Miami's home finale against Virginia in November. A few months later, the offensive lineman told reporters ahead of the Under Armour All-America Game's Future 50 combine in January that the Hurricanes were doing the best job of recruiting his parents.

But months later, Neal still doesn't foresee an impending decision.

"She’s on me about it, man, but it’s a decision that I’m going to have to make. I’m going to take my time. I don’t want to jump the gun on any type of decision because I only get one," Neal said. "It'll either happen throughout the course of the season or right after the season because I'm early enrolling."

Right now, Neal is most concerned with preparing for his senior season with the Ascenders. IMG won't even let players loose this weekend ahead of fall camp's official start Monday. This means Neal won't be at Paradise Camp on Saturday, nor will he check out Florida State or Alabama. If he were able to take a visit this weekend, Neal said he'd most likely see either the Seminoles or Crimson Tide.

Neal's focus on football rather than the recruiting process is paying off so far. The senior earned a bump to 5-star status in the 247Sports composite rankings after a strong performance at The Opening finals. He continues to reshape his body, as well, as he's down about 30 pounds from the 385 pounds he played his junior season at.

It's still a work in progress for Neal, who realized how much weight he needed to cut in the spring. Packers tackle Bryan Bulaga, as many professional athletes do, spent part of the spring training at IMG. As good as Neal is, Bulaga still wasn't sold on the elite prospect. The offensive lineman told an Ascenders trainer he wouldn't draft Neal if he was a general manager.

"Because I was too fat," Neal said. "That kind of resonated with me. If he’s someone who’s already there and one of the best in the business, and he said he wouldn’t draft me, obviously I’ve got to get with it. I’ve got to get right."

Neal is targeting 320-325 pounds by the time he's eligible to be drafted. He still has a little way to go.

His focus on football, however, means the Hurricanes will have the final impression on Neal as he heads into his senior season. The Okeechobee native visited Miami on June 6 with his father, two cousins and an uncle. While he'd visited a number of times in the past -- most recently for junior day March 24 -- this visit was a chance to have significant one-on-one time with coach Mark Richt and the rest of his staff.

"It was a really, really good visit. They threw everything and the kitchen sink at me, man. I even got to see the new indoor facility," Neal said. "They’ve got something special going on there."

Neal doesn't currently have any visits planned -- and no official visits locked in -- but expects to take a handful during IMG's bye week and after the season. He could also get creative and use the Ascenders' jet-setting schedule to check out some of his top schools. IMG, for example, wraps up the regular season with a road game against Hoover (Ala.) High School on Nov. 2, so he would like to visit Alabama the same weekend.
 

Comments (127)

BRADENTON -- Evan Neal knows it's not exactly a secret where most of his family would like to see him wind up at the next level. The 5-star tackle grew up a Miami fan, has family which has played for the Hurricanes and grew up closer to Coral Gables than either of the other Big 3 Florida schools.

And, of course, his mother is a factor, too. Even from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Neal talks to his parents every night about his potential college decision. Almost very night, his mother makes her voice heard.

"If it was up to her," Neal said Wednesday at IMG's media day in Bradenton, "I'd already be committed to Miami."

This isn't exactly new news. Neal first mentioned his mother's fixation on the Hurricanes almost a year ago after he visited Hard Rock Stadium for Miami's home finale against Virginia in November. A few months later, the offensive lineman told reporters ahead of the Under Armour All-America Game's Future 50 combine in January that the Hurricanes were doing the best job of recruiting his parents.

But months later, Neal still doesn't foresee an impending decision.

"She’s on me about it, man, but it’s a decision that I’m going to have to make. I’m going to take my time. I don’t want to jump the gun on any type of decision because I only get one," Neal said. "It'll either happen throughout the course of the season or right after the season because I'm early enrolling."

Right now, Neal is most concerned with preparing for his senior season with the Ascenders. IMG won't even let players loose this weekend ahead of fall camp's official start Monday. This means Neal won't be at Paradise Camp on Saturday, nor will he check out Florida State or Alabama. If he were able to take a visit this weekend, Neal said he'd most likely see either the Seminoles or Crimson Tide.

Neal's focus on football rather than the recruiting process is paying off so far. The senior earned a bump to 5-star status in the 247Sports composite rankings after a strong performance at The Opening finals. He continues to reshape his body, as well, as he's down about 30 pounds from the 385 pounds he played his junior season at.

It's still a work in progress for Neal, who realized how much weight he needed to cut in the spring. Packers tackle Bryan Bulaga, as many professional athletes do, spent part of the spring training at IMG. As good as Neal is, Bulaga still wasn't sold on the elite prospect. The offensive lineman told an Ascenders trainer he wouldn't draft Neal if he was a general manager.

"Because I was too fat," Neal said. "That kind of resonated with me. If he’s someone who’s already there and one of the best in the business, and he said he wouldn’t draft me, obviously I’ve got to get with it. I’ve got to get right."

Neal is targeting 320-325 pounds by the time he's eligible to be drafted. He still has a little way to go.

His focus on football, however, means the Hurricaneswill have the final impression on Neal as he heads into his senior season. The Okeechobee native visited Miami on June 6 with his father, two cousins and an uncle. While he'd visited a number of times in the past -- most recently for junior day March 24 -- this visit was a chance to have significant one-on-one time with coach Mark Richt and the rest of his staff.

"It was a really, really good visit They threw everything and the kitchen sink at me, man. I even got to see the new indoor facility," Neal said. "They’ve got something special going on there."

Neal doesn't currently have any visits planned -- and no official visits locked in -- but expects to take a handful during IMG's bye week and after the season. He could also get creative and use the Ascenders' jet-setting schedule to check out some of his top schools. IMG, for example, wraps up the regular season with a road game against Hoover (Ala.) High School on Nov. 2, so he would like to visit Alabama the same weekend.

Welcome to Caneinsight Wilson🤟🏾
 
This kid is a Canes lean, he just wants to enjoy the process..
 
His mom is a smart woman!
 
ayeeeeeeeeeee! man let me tell you I loved your work! I was always following die hards canes I felt the news there were frequent and honest. Definitely glad you are here man what you got you didnt deserve
 
WELL from what I’m hearing some IMG kids still plan on camping this weekend. Not sure if some kids are just saying IMG isnt letting them go so they don’t have to make a decision
 
WELL from what I’m hearing some IMG kids still plan on camping this weekend. Not sure if some kids are just saying IMG isnt letting them go so they don’t have to make a decision
Nah. IMG is only letting kids go who had a previously planned visit that they cant cancel like Lucas and Mccrae.
 
Yeah, I just saw a few other stories with players mentioning they're headed places this weekend. Neal said IMG is keeping them on campus through the weekend (I know IMG has done a sort of lock-in, team-bonding thing heading into fall camp in the past), so I'm not sure if there was a miscommunication or something on someone's end. I guess we'll see what happens when the weekend gets here.
 
Nah. IMG is only letting kids go who had a previously planned visit that they cant cancel like Lucas and Mccrae.

That's possible. I've been kind of out of the loop in the recruiting world the past month.
 
WELL from what I’m hearing some IMG kids still plan on camping this weekend. Not sure if some kids are just saying IMG isnt letting them go so they don’t have to make a decision

Word is those that some kids are basically being exempt from staying on campus due to having previously arranged trips
 
Welcome to Caneinsight David, anticipated this for a while
 
Thanks for the write up and keeping us up to date with things on the West Coast! I loved your work and its missed down here, I still click on the old site once in a while in hope of a miracle resurrection! I look forward for as much input as you can provide thru Canesinsight!
 
Nah. IMG is only letting kids go who had a previously planned visit that they cant cancel like Lucas and Mccrae.

Well I think we both basically said the same exact thing just in a different way. If you want to make a choice and leave you are given th chance and if you don’t want the stress of picking IMG has your back
 

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