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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Friday, August 21, 2006

By Sammy Batten

2006 RECRUITING ARCHIVES
Offensive Analysis  •  Defensive Analysis  •  Profiles

2007 RECRUITING OUTLOOK
QB's & Receivers  •  O-Linemen & RB's  •  Profiles

Program's "momentum" draws brawny back McNeil

Northeastern High School star spurns other early suitors to join ex-teammate Brumsey in Greenville

©2006 Bonesville.net
All rights reserved.

When Northeastern High School football coach Antonio Moore tries to describe the running style of Daronte McNeil, he thinks back to the 2003 college season and a game he watched between Florida State and North Carolina.

Late in the first quarter of that game, FSU’s 255-pound tailback Greg Jones turned upfield around the left end. UNC safety Dexter Reid came up to try to tackle Jones. But Jones lowered his shoulder and launched himself into Reid, sending the safety’s helmet in one direction and his body in another.

“That’s kind of the way Daronte runs,’’ Moore said. “He is so powerful. He’s actually a lot bigger than most linebackers. Defensive backs hate to come up and tackle him.’’

Built like a Hummer, the 6-foot-2, 219-pound McNeil plowed his way to 2,531 yards and 31 touchdowns last season to earn player of the year honors in the Northeastern-Coastal 2-A/3-A Conference.

The performance grabbed the attention of many college recruiters, including those from East Carolina who were in Elizabeth City often last year recruiting Northeastern wide receiver Javon Brumsey.

But while Louisville and Virginia came through with early scholarship offers, it was the Pirates who landed McNeil earlier this month.

Pivotal in McNeil’s decision was the presence of Brumsey, who won’t participate in football this season but will be enrolled in classes at ECU as a partial academic qualifier. Brumsey can join the Pirates in the fall of 2007 if he completes academic requirements.

“I’d rather go to a school where I know someone,’’ McNeil said. “Javon and I have played together since middle school, starting with flag football. He’s already up there and he filled me in on what I need to know.’’

McNeil is in his fourth season on the varsity at Northeastern. But Moore first discovered McNeil as a seventh grader playing middle-school football.

Even then, says Moore, you could tell McNeil had a special style about him.

“When he was in the seventh and eighth grade he looked like a junior varsity player,’’ Moore said. “If you could bring them up as seventh- and eighth-graders he would have been starting on the JV's as a tailback.

“The one thing you could already tell about him at that age was that he had power. He was always bigger, faster and stronger than anyone else. You don’t get too many kids coming along like that.’’

By the time McNeil did play for the Northeastern JV's in the ninth grade, he didn’t stay there long. Moore promoted him to the varsity squad three games into his freshman season. He hasn’t been out of the Northeastern lineup since.

McNeil’s yardage last season led many to compare him to former Northeastern standout Jacque Lewis, who went on to play at North Carolina and last year in NFL Europe. Even though he was recruited with similar intensity to Lewis, McNeil is a different style of back, according to Moore.

“He’s definitely the heaviest recruited kid we’ve had here since Jacque Lewis,’’ Moore said. “Jacque was more flashy as a runner and was actually probably a little faster. Daronte is different. He’s more of a power back. He has great vision and deceptive speed. He’s about a 4.5 kid where Jacque was in the low 4.5 or high 4.4.’’

When citing examples of McNeil’s running style, Moore quickly shifts the conversation back to the Greg Jones-Dexter Reid play.

“He made a play against Hertford County last year that was just like that,’’ Moore said. “We were down 32-31 with three minutes left in the game, and he ran a play just like Greg Jones did. He ran through two defensive backs on the Hertford County sidelines and went for a 72-yard touchdown. It was an amazing play.’’

McNeil is the fourth skill player to give East Carolina a commitment for the Class of 2007. He joins quarterback D.J. McFadden from Charlotte, Charlotte fullback Ben Herlocker and Suffolk, VA, wide receiver Darryl Freeney in what is shaping up as one of the best Pirate recruiting classes in years.

“There’s a lot of momentum there,’’ McNeil said. “I feel like Coach Holtz and his staff are signing up some great players who are going to go in there and make some good things happen. I think I fit right in with those guys and what they’re trying go do there.’’

Five of ECU’s commitments are from in-state athletes.

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02/23/2007 02:37:45 PM

 

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