McNeal, a Minneapolis, Minn., native, signed with Clemson on Letter-of-Intent Day. Considered one of the nation's top wide receivers and the best player from his state by most observers, McNeal never considered the resurgent Gopher program in his own backyard. He wanted to get out of town.
"I didn't want to stay at home," said the Scout.com four-star receiver. "I wanted to get away. I wanted a change. I can't do this any more."
As it turned out, McNeal wanted to get really far out of town. He had originally committed to Michigan, but decided to re-open his recruitment. He denied it was because of the Wolverines' 3-9 record last season, their first under head coach Rich Rodriguez. It was just an unsettling, nagging feeling that he had not made the right decision.
"I left Michigan because I just didn't feel completely, 100 percent right about it," McNeal explained. "The coaches were wonderful. I just didn't feel as comfortable playing for them. It had nothing to do with their record."
McNeal committed to Michigan during the spring before his senior year. He talked about taking other official visits soon afterward, then declared himself completely off the market. But that nagging feeling wouldn't go away, and McNeal eventually opened it all the way up.
Scout.com's No. 40 wide-out, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, was open to anything, traveling as far away as Oregon for a visit. "I said that the distance didn't matter as long as it's not a ridiculous distance," McNeal said. "Oregon was kind of a stretch. I could have done Oregon if I had family in Oregon or Washington or California, but as it was, it was kind of a stretch."
In the end, the Wolverines didn't even make his top five. "Clemson was first and then Oregon and Colorado were both neck-to-neck," McNeal said. "Then Minnesota and Oklahoma was last, even with that offense. I really didn't like it."
Despite his plentiful skills, McNeal realizes that he has a lot of work to do before the fall. "I'm going to hit the weight room, get a little stronger, put some more muscle on my frame, work hard to be the successful person I want to be," he said. "I want to bring leadership to the squad and do everything in my power to help the team out."