Thursday, May 2, 2013
Football, more for Texas Tech commit?
By Damon Sayles
Derrick Neal (Dallas/Lincoln) has a name and a game that are slowly resonating through the college ranks. As good of a football player as he is, some think he’s an even better basketball player.
So when the 5-foot-10, 145-pound 2014 athlete verbally committed to Texas Tech on Wednesday, fans from both sports were wondering exactly what he committed for -- football or basketball? And will he play both for the Red Raiders?
“I’m not sure yet,” Neal said, “but I committed to play football.”
Neal was Lincoln’s leading receiver as a junior, catching 34 passes for 519 yards and seven touchdowns -- all from his twin brother, Erick Neal. Derrick also rushed 53 times for 343 yards and six touchdowns. Additionally, he can return punts and kickoffs, as he was the special teams MVP in his district.
Texas Tech was Neal’s lone offer. Recruited by Red Raiders receivers coach Eric Morris, Neal chose Texas Tech over interest from Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas, Oregon and several other schools. Neal picked up the Texas Tech offer in February. His pledge gives the Red Raiders 10 commits for the 2014 class.
“It’s a great feeling. I’m excited,” Neal said. “[Morris] is a pretty good person. He was telling me about the offense and how they have a young staff.
“I’m probably more comfortable at slot [receiver], but it doesn’t matter where I play. I’d rather play slot and do kickoff returns and punt returns.”
On the football field, Neal is listed as an athlete for the next level. On the basketball court, he and his brother make up one of the best backcourts in Texas. Both are capable of running the point guard position by using incredible ball-handling skills, and both have solid range from beyond the 3-point line. The twins are also solid defenders.
Neal averaged 12.7 points and 4.7 assists per game for Lincoln’s basketball team, which finished this past season 28-7 and advanced three rounds deep in the Texas Class 4A playoffs. He and his brother have offers to play basketball at Texas-Arlington and Long Island, while Texas Tech has been one of the schools to also show interest for hoops. Granted, Texas Tech’s interest was under former head coach Billy Gillispie and former interim coach Chris Walker.
“They want me and my brother to play for them,” Neal said, “but I haven’t talked to [new coach Tubby Smith] yet.”
While the idea of playing both sports is intriguing, Neal said he will focus his attention on being the best athlete possible for the upcoming football season. He’s happy to be a Texas Tech football commit, but there’s a chance he will try to be a two-sport standout.