To say Lewis Neal (Wilson, N.C./James B. Hunt) is dominating his opposition this fall probably isn't doing it justice.
That might sound like hyperbole, but you might reconsider after asking him how things are going at the halfway point of his senior campaign -- a mere five games into the season.
"I've got 50 tackles and 11 sacks, and I've only been playing two quarters each game because we've been blowing everyone out," Neal said. "If I played four quarters it would be a whole different story."
Neal sounded disappointed when he mentioned his limited playing time, but it's probably for the best. At a rate of 10 tackles and two sacks per two quarters, his substitution at halftime is probably the only thing that allows opposing quarterbacks to sleep during game week.
That's just the type of news LSU wants to hear from one of its three current defensive end commits as the Tigers are poised to lose as many as four ends when the 2012 season finishes. And don't think for a minute that production has gone unnoticed by the coaching staff in Baton Rouge. Neal, whose Warriors enjoyed a bye week this past weekend, said he got a call from LSU coach Les Miles last week to congratulate him on the impressive start.
"He was just like, 'Save some tackles for when you come up here,'" Neal said.
Miles also talked to Neal about the plan for the next few months and his desire to come visit his 6-foot-1, 230-pound pass rusher.
"He said he wants to come on down here when he's allowed to come and meet everybody," Neal said. "He wants to come to school and meet my teachers, all my friends and my family -- everything."
That's just one way the LSU staff is keeping tabs on Neal, who joined the class all the way back on the Fourth of July. Plenty of other schools, such as Ohio State, Clemson, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, have been interested enough to offer Neal a scholarship. But it certainly seems the Tigers' staff is doing its part to share the love, as defensive coordinator John Chavis and defensive line coach Brick Haley are also regular contacts.
"I talk to Coach Chavis and Coach Haley every week, and then Coach Miles once every two or three weeks or whenever he's free. Because he's really busy right now," Neal said. "But whenever I call him I know I'm going to get a call. If I call him and I miss him, he always gets me back."
The Tigers will have a chance to see Neal much closer in about a month. Not surprisingly, the four-star prospect plans to take his official visit to Baton Rouge during the weekend of Nov. 3 for the titanic clash with No. 1 Alabama. He should be one of about four dozen blue-chippers in attendance.
In the meantime, Neal hopes to keep racking up sacks, and the Tigers will surely keep close tabs. There is no shortage of programs with an eye on his big season, but Neal said LSU has no reason to worry about his commitment.
"Other schools still want me regardless. I already know that, because when they see me they're like, 'We wish we could get you,' " he said. "But they know how solid I am, and what kind of person I am. They know I'm good -- I've already got a plan."