PAISLEY, Fla. –Bryce McNeal wore a gray cut-off Michigan T-shirt at the Football University Top Gun Showcase Camp on Monday as he sat on a bench in the shade icing a minor leg injury.
McNeal, a 6-foot-2 wide receiver from Minneapolis Breck, said the camp was worthwhile because he was able to compete against some of the nation's top players. One reason is that the camp should get him more prepared for college football. But more important is that the camp should help McNeal achieve his goal of reaching the state playoffs for the first time.
"First, it's about your high school," said McNeal, who committed to the Wolverines on May 17. "Those are the friends you grew up with. I was just thinking about that after my senior year of high school, I'm never going to play with those guys again. That's a big deal to me.
"I have to go through this before I get there. This is the task at hand. I'm out here trying to get better so I help my team out more."
Breck's quarterback is headed to Yale and McNeal is one of the nation's best receivers, so the offense should be set up for a big season. McNeal said if some players on defense emerge, the team could make a run in the state playoffs.
After that, it's off to Michigan. McNeal says he's still "100 percent committed" to the Wolverines, but he plans to keep a close eye on how first-year coach Rich Rodriguez runs his version of the spread offense. McNeal also said he plans to take his official visits just to be sure.
"I can't wait (to see Michigan's offense)," McNeal said. "It's going to be a big deal for me. I'm 100 percent on my commitment and everything, but I'm still going to take my officials to make sure I'm certain. If they come out and just pound that ball, I'm going to have to think about some things."
"I've talked to Florida briefly, not too much, but they said they want me to take an official," McNeal said. "I was supposed to go visit them while I was here. I was supposed to go and check them out, but I don't have a way to get up there. My mom and dad are home.
"I like Michigan with their offense. We run an offense similar to that without the option. I like Florida and how they get you the ball any way you need it, and I kind of like Oklahoma with their style even though they like the 6-4, 6-5 receivers. I'm looking to play outside. That's where Michigan wants me to play but I'll play anywhere."
A few years ago, McNeal believed his future was in basketball, and it wasn't until he was in the eighth grade that he started taking football seriously. It turned out to be the right decision for McNeal, who had a combined 88 receptions and 14 touchdowns in the past two seasons. He played half the basketball season last year but does not plan to play as a senior.
"I grew up being a basketball player and then I switched over to football, and my mom accepted it but my dad didn't accept it because he was a basketball player," McNeal said. "(When) the colleges started coming, then he switched and said, 'OK, maybe you should stop playing basketball.' "