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2015 Recruiting Season is in full swing


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Texas 5-star linebacker Malik Jefferson, teammate DeAndre McNeal have strong interest in Alabama






BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - Two of Alabama's targets for the few remaining spots in the Crimson Tide's 2015 class come from the same high school in Malik Jefferson and DeAndre McNeal.

The two star at Poteet High School in Mesquite, Texas. Jefferson is a 5-star linebacker and McNeal is a 3-star athlete who could play tight end or linebacker at the next level


"I believe there is strong interest out of both of these young men," Mesquite head coach Kody Groves told AL.com. "I would think that DeAndre has Alabama higher on his list than Malik does at the moment but this is an ever-changing process." 

Jefferson announced that he would commit on Dec. 19, his last day of high school as he plans on being an early enrollee to his school of choice.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Jefferson has official visits set up for UCLA, Stanford and Ohio State, according to 247Sports. He has yet to visit Tuscaloosa, but has expressed interest.

Jefferson is the No. 11 rated player nationally in the 247Sports composite rankings. He's also rated as the top outside linebacker in the country and the top prospect in talent-rich Texas.

The 247Sports Crystal Ball predicts him to Texas A&M (64 percent) or Texas (33 percent).


McNeal is rated as a 3-star athlete on the 247Sports composite. The 6-foot-2, 228-pound McNeal could be an outside linebacker or an H-back/tight end at the next level. Alabama is hunting athletes at both positions.

McNeal took trips to Alabama and Auburn in July and holds offers from both. According to the 247Sports Crystal Ball, 46 percent of the projections have him favoring the Crimson Tide.

However, McNeal has set up four of his five official visits, according to 247Sports. They are to Miami, Oklahoma State, UCLA and Arizona State.

"They are great young men and think much of Alabama and coach (Nick) Saban and it will be interesting to see if either of them end up playing there," Groves said.



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CB Roney Elam (Newton) to aggy over LSU

This is good news for Texas. 


Texas already has 3 guys that will play in the secondary in this class (Ramsey, Elliot, and Johnson). Texas would have pushed harder for Elam had Boyd, Hill, and Sheffield not still been on the board. IMO Texas is only going to take 2 more players in the secondary. Elam is a good player but not in the same class as Boyd, Hill and Sheffield. 


Not really sure I understand Sumlin's strategy on pushing for a commit on Elam unless he really liked him. A&M already has 5 guys in the secondary committed in this class. No way in hell they are taking 8 guys in the secondary, which is why this is good news. Not sure why you would push for an Elam commit now when Boyd, Hill and Sheffield are all still on the board. 

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A&M already has 5 guys in the secondary committed in this class.


right now we have three safeties and two corners. one of the safeties (justin dunning) very well might spin down to LB. 


we need one more out of hill/sheffield/boyd. if we end up with elam and sheffield i'm content. i think we'd take two out of those three if it worked out that way. 

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DeAndre McNeal is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound outside linebacker. McNeal is a top target for head coach Charlie Strong and linebacker coach Brian Jean-Mary. The Longhorns are in search of three linebackers for the class of 2015 and McNeal is one of the players near the top of the board.


"I speak with coach BJ the most," McNeal said. "Wonderful staff, I love what they are doing up there and I can't wait till the season starts great feeling about the Longhorns. They are very high on my list."


Charlie Strong and Brian Jean-Mary love their linebackers to be athletic. Athleticism is DeAndre McNeal. He gained just under 1,000 yards rushing and scored a total of 20 touchdowns in 2013. He also caught 40 passes for just under 600 yards and 11 touchdowns.


"UCLATexas TechAlabamaArizona State and also Texas show me the most love."


McNeal is one of the most-unselfish players you will find in 2015. Often, awarding the credit to his teammates and coaches. What is the best part about his game as a football player?


"The strength is the amazing people that I play for especially the community that I have along with coaches and friends and family," McNeal said. "I also play for the people that pray for me to fall and fail in life."


DeAndre McNeal will make his public intentions known on December 20th, 2014 one day after five-star teammate Malik Jefferson announces.

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That throws a wrench into his recruiting process. Before today you would have thought that UT didn't have a chance now all of a sudden there is communication. I think if Malik goes to Texas McNeal does too. I think if Malik goes elsewhere Mcneal ends up out of state somewhere. 

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Poteet's Jefferson, McNeal embrace hectic recruiting schedules





Mesquite Poteet linebacker Malik Jefferson, left, and defensive back DeAndre McNeal take a brief break from drills as they listen to defensive coordinator Chase Vaughn. The pair are expected to be an a big part of the Pirates playoff run toward a state title. The first day of practice for the varsity Mesquite Poteet Pirates football team was conducted at the school's practice field in Mesquite on August 11, 2014. (Steve Hamm/Special Contributor)





MESQUITE — Mesquite Poteet seniors Malik Jefferson and DeAndre McNeal were just elected captains by their teammates. The team started full-contact practices last Friday, and Monday is the first day of classes. If Poteet is going to have a year that equals or improves on its 2013 season, when it finished 12-2 after losing to Ennis in the Class 4A Division I Region II final, the Pirates will need big performances from their two stars.

While that seems like a lot to juggle for the duo, in truth, it’s not the half of it.

Both are high-profile prospects who have yet to pledge to a college program. The coming weeks and months will be spent getting pulled in a million directions: on the road taking campus tours, fielding calls from coaches and the media, and — more important — trying to decide where they want to go to school.

By deciding to wait until the final months before committing — all while trying to make a state final run — things are going to get hectic.

“It’s going to get bad,†Jefferson said. “It’s going to get worse because they want me to commit; everybody wants me to commit. I’m getting some scholarship offers that are saying here’s a deadline. I’m like, ‘If you really want me that bad, wouldn’t you wait?’ â€

‘Upside is unreal’

There are few teams in the country that haven’t pined for Jefferson’s services. The 6-3, 210-pound outside linebacker is the top-ranked player on the SportsDayHS Area Top 100, and is considered by several recruiting websites to be the best player in the nation at his position.

At Poteet, he’s been incredibly productive: 198 tackles (42 for loss), 21 sacks, eight forced fumbles and six recovered fumbles in two varsity seasons. And that productivity hasn’t gone unnoticed. Jefferson has offers from nearly every significant FBS program — from in-state schools such as Texas A&M, Texas, Baylor and TCU to out-of-state powerhouses like Alabama, Auburn, Florida State and LSU.

To put it another way, Jefferson has offers from 13 of the last 15 BCS national champions.

Mesquite Poteet coach Kody Groves said that approximately 150 college programs came through in the spring, including several schools that don’t typically recruit North Texas.

“When you start getting Oregon, Washington and UCLA and USC, you start getting Miami and those schools, you typically don’t see them here,†Groves said.

“With Malik, they’re making special trips out here for that core of about 10 kids,†such as Cedar Hill’s DaMarkus Lodge and Allen’s Kyler Murray.

McNeal, a 6-2, 210-pound defensive back, linebacker and flex receiver, has a list of offers that are nearly as impressive, including Ohio State and Oklahoma.

“His upside is unreal,†Groves said. “He’s that kid that can play five different positions on offense, and you never have to change personnel, which makes defenses hate life.â€

Why wait?

Given the interest both players have received, waiting until the end of their senior seasons to decide on a college bucks a trend. Only 25 players on the Area Top 100 list have yet to commit.

For Jefferson and McNeal, their hesitance is dictated by the NCAA’s own recruiting schedule. If a student-athlete is going to take official visits — getting airfare, hotel, food and entertainment paid for by the college — before committing, he or she must wait until their senior year starts.

Jefferson said he plans on taking his maximum five official visits to out-of-state programs and driving to Texas schools for other unofficial visits.

“I’ll be gone every weekend,†Jefferson said. “Every weekend. But I have to go, though.â€

McNeal said his fall schedule will be nearly as busy, despite taking summer trips to Ohio State, Auburn, Alabama, Oklahoma and UCLA.

“The rest of the year is going to be nonstop busyness,†McNeal said.


‘Fun, but I’m tired’

This season, a regular-season Poteet game could be immediately followed by either player jetting off to a far-flung locale, missing Saturday treatment and weights and film sessions at Poteet in the process.

Despite his desire to maintain a consistent regimen for his team, Groves said he understands what his players need to do.

“I think if it were any other two kids, I might be worried,†Groves said. “They are great kids.â€

The rigorous recruiting pace of both players was manageable for Groves in the spring and summer. But now, with all the responsibilities of getting a team ready for the season, Groves said that the constant traffic gets to be too much.

“From time to time, I scratch my head and go, ‘This is fun, but I’m tired,’ †Groves said. “For them, too. It’s unreal for them.â€

Groves nodded to a message on his office phone.

“I bet, if I check that message right now, it’s probably somebody wanting to interview one of those kids, or production companies trying to get out here to do some specials on them,†Groves said.

“Everybody’s trying to market that recruiting deal right now, and you’ve got to sift through what’s legit and what’s not. I don’t want to say it’s extra work; I enjoy it sometimes. I wouldn’t trade not having them to get rid of that kind of stuff. But it’s pretty intense.â€

South Oak Cliff coach Emmett Jones, who has at least 10 Division I players on his roster, said that he’d prefer his players “shut it all down†by the preseason, instead having them focus on getting their academic requirements squared away. And yet, one of SOC’s prized recruits, senior defensive back Jamile Johnson, pulled away from an Oklahoma pledge right before the start of fall practice.

“I was just something that I was thinking about for a while,†Johnson said. “It was something to better myself.â€

Decision in December

Jefferson said that he’ll make a commitment on Dec. 19, with plans of graduating early from Poteet to get a jumpstart on his collegiate academic load. McNeal tweeted last week that he’ll commit a day after Jefferson, on Dec. 20.

Both players said they understand how constant the recruiting pressure will be until then, but nothing will stop them from focusing on their over-arching goal: getting one step closer, or perhaps even winning, the Class 5A title.

“At the end of the day, my team comes first — this is where I made my name, with my teammates,†Jefferson said. “And I really don’t have any other distractions. I’m focused on school … and college



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