One of the rare bright spots in Syracuse’s ugly loss to UConn was its first half defense, which created five Husky turnovers. The SU linebackers were critical to that effort, a unit filled with fast, athletic youth growing into its roles. The Orange is in a recruiting war to add yet another player maker to that unit in Tyrone Neal. The 6’1’’ 225 lbs. standout from McKeesport HS (PA) is a 3-star prospect who has garnered a lot of attention from big time programs such as USC, Florida and Auburn. The Fizz talked with Matt Popchuck of Sports Radio 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, who covers Western PA high school football. He says Tyrone has whittled his choices down to a top three: Syracuse. West Virginia and Nebraska.
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Popchuck believes the two (current) Big East schools are the favorites to land Neal, but a recent visit to Lincoln helped the Huskers jump back into the conversation. Popchuck said the move to the ACC has benefited Syracuse and a major reason talents like Neal have started to lean Orange. Pittsburgh is also reaping the rewards of the move.
“A lot of high profile Western Penn recruits like the fact the ACC is expanding as more teams gain exposure in television markets. This bodes well for ‘Cuse.”
Neal plays outside linebacker for McKeesport and has had a chance to shine this year for the Tigers.
“He can be a gazelle out on the football field. The team around him is not as strong as usual but Neal continues to stand out and make play. He has good upper body strength and is not afraid to lay the wood down on backs.”
The linebacker shoots the gaps hard and fast and is always in the backfield. And when he gets there, he makes the play. Tyrone gets off blocks and finds the ball carrier very well. He is constantly making plays and chasing down backs for losses.
Tyrone has the physical tools, but what makes him stand out is his non-stop motor.
“Tyrone never gives up on a play and is always around the ball. His work ethic is incredible and he has the intangibles that coaches look for.”
One of those intangibles is leadership. Neal is the vocal point of the defense and embraces the leadership role. He said he tries to emulate his style of play after one NFL great linebacker.
“Ray Lewis. I try to be like him – be a leader and play with enthusiasm. I try to get all hyped up and wound up. You know, get the blood flowing through my body.”
Work ethic and enthusiasm are internal traits that can’t be quantitative in stats. Having players that give the extra effort every play is a coach’s dream.
Rumblings around Western PA say Neal wants to stay out east and a decision is most likely to come soon. Plucking Neal out of the Keystone State would be a huge recruiting win for Marrone. Beating out West Virginia and Nebraska is no small task, but it looks like the move to the ACC is making Syracuse more appealing every day.
Posted: Dave Van Moffaert