Name: LaDarrell McNeil
High School: Wilmer-Hutchins (Texas)
Stats: As a junior, McNeil racked up over 125 tackles, had two sacks and three interceptions to earn All-District honors.
A day before announcing his selection McNeil’s head coach released a final four schools of Michigan, Texas A&M, TCU and Oklahoma State. Most assumed then that Oklahoma State would be the choice, but the Scout.com 4-star was set to pull a surprise choice out of the bag when he picked the SEC and Tennessee.
He is the defensive leader of his team and is a head-hunter from the safety position. One of his best attributes is his leadership. He has had a lot of experience and stood out amongst the varsity players on his high school team at a young age and by the time he was a sophomore you could catch him calling out defensive assignments. He is at his very best against the run. He is very aggressive and is able to get down hill quickly and when he arrives to the ball carrier he drops him in his tracks. He will also deliver big bone-crushing blows to receivers attempting to run routes across the middle of the field. I would feel comfortable describing his game as MEAN. He is physically ready to play college football right now, but could still take his body to the next level. He has a big strong lower body and could take the punishment of playing in the box in college if need be.
Because he is so aggressive against the run McNeil will have tendency to bite on play-action passes or fake hand-offs. In high school you do not notice it that much because his elite level of athleticism allows him to make up ground so quickly on everyone else. He loves to blow up ball carriers and like many other young players he comes too high at times or does not wrap up, so he will just need to continue to train and get better at all of the finer points.
He should come right in and be physically ready to compete year one. His ability to fly down the field and make big hits, but also understand his assignments should make him the type of guy the coaches would want to use on special teams while working him in to the defense. The worry would be that maybe he does grow in to a linebacker and has to learn a new position. That could slow him down from seeing starting action, but I do not think that he will need a red-shirt year for developmental purposes.