Saturday, July 21, 2012
Scouts: Bama rebounds with McNeil
By Craig Haubert
Just a few days earlier Alabama lost out on a top tight end when Hunter Henry (Little Rock, Ark./Pulaski) chose to stay in-state and committed to Arkansas, but the Crimson Tide rebounded very nicely and landed a verbal from another ESPN 150 tight end Friday night when Josh McNeil (Durham, N.C./Hillside) committed. Henry is a more experienced and more polished prospect at this point, but by landing McNeil, Alabama got a prospect with nice upside and arguably a higher ceiling for development who with some work should be a nice fit for them.
McNeil displays a lot of natural ability, but will very likely be a prospect who needs some developmental time when he hits Tuscaloosa as his senior year will only be his second of high school football. While still a bit raw and unpolished in areas this is a prospect who demonstrates the tools to grow into a very good and well-rounded college tight end. He is a basketball kid who has nice overall size and room for further physical development which should come with some time in the Tide’s weight program. He can be a productive part of the passing attack as he possesses good hands and with a nice reach and good body control he offers a nice catch radius. He needs development as a route runner and to learn to become a more efficient runner, but he can get into his routes quickly, has some speed, and flashes the ability to be able to pick-up some extra yards after the catch. He also has experience as an in-line blocker which is key and he demonstrates the ability to develop into a productive player in the phase which he will need to be in that offense.
McNeil has a lot of natural ability which explains why with so little experience he has been able to garner the attention he has and while he has taken to the game well and is a good player he still does need development and will need to work on and improve in the little things that will be asked of him playing in that offense. With a commitment from McNeil, Alabama now has verbal’s from two ESPN 150 tight end prospects with commitment from O.J. Howard (Prattville, Ala./Autauga) as well. With Howard, an excellent athlete who is a strong receiver, the Crimson Tide can likely take a little time to bring McNeil along and further develop and polish his game which should greatly benefit both parties. It’s been a bit of an unusual rough stretch for Alabama recently on recruiting trail, but the Crimson Tide have rebounded nicely adding McNeil to the mix and they now have a very strong pair of tight end prospects on board.