|High schoolOmaha Central|
Omaha Central defensive end DaiShon Neal committed to Nebraska on April 9, just hours after Omaha North offensive lineman Michael Decker committed to the Huskers. The two commits were the first in-state prospects in NU's 2015 class.
After a late push from various schools including Oklahoma and Michigan, Neal firmed up his commitment to Nebraska during a Jan. 27, 2015, appearance on Omaha's 1620 AM radio show "Sharp and Benning in the Morning."
With his initial commitment, Neal became the ninth member of Nebraska's 2015 class, and the first defensive end in the group. The junior had just returned from an unofficial visit to Oklahoma State, Central coach Jay Ball said, and had an offer from Ohio, but the Nebraska offer was one he was waiting on.
"It's a dream come true," Neal said. "It's something I always wanted to do. I'm glad my education's going to be paid for."
Neal received the offer from then-NU assistant coach Barney Cotton, his primary recruiter, over the phone and committed a half-hour later. He announced the decision on Twitter:
I announce my commitment to Nebraska! Blessed! #FutureHusker— DaiShon (@DaishonNeal90) April 10, 2014
Neal is 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds. According to 247Sports.com, he held offers from Oregon, Michigan, Oklahoma, Illinois State, Ohio, South Dakota and South Dakota State.
The four major recruiting sites list Neal as a three-star recruit. 247 Sports ranks him as the 20th defensive end in the nation, while Scout has him at No. 65.
Neal was named to The World-Herald All-Nebraska team after a senior season in which he had 13 tackles for losses, five sacks, six hurries, two takeaways and a blocked kick. He also caught two touchdown passes against Omaha North.
Once Bo Pelini was fired — and Cotton was not retained by new coach Mike Riley — Oregon started pushing for Neal. Ducks defensive line coach Ron Aiken visited Neal's home, and the defensive end said he was "50-50" between Nebraska and Oregon.
Riley visited Neal after that, and it was a positive experience, Ball said.
“What a personable guy,” Ball said of Riley. “Talked to anybody. Extended his hand to anybody who was extending theirs. Made ’em feel like he was a regular person.”
Snow on signing day canceled Neal's plans. But he was still excited to be a Husker.
Man no school! Way to ruin my day OPS.— DJ (@DaishonNeal90) February 4, 2015
* * *
Coachspeak: “He needs to get stronger, that’s the No. 1 thing, and that’s the big thing about going to Nebraska and getting in that (strength and conditioning) program and with their nutrition people. Look for him to gain 20 to 30 pounds the next few years, and he won’t lose a step at 270. He’s that athletic.” — Jay Ball, Central head coach
Our take: No doubt that Neal is somewhat of a raw prospect, but the tools are intriguing and Nebraska has a dire need to re-stock the position. Says he wants to get into the 280 to 285 range, but not so big that he loses any of his speed or explosiveness. Good get for the Husker staff, but now the task transitions into developing him.
* * *
These are the players who built Nebraska football.