May 21, 2008

McNeal a perfect fit in Michigan's spread offense

Michigan's newest verbal commitment, Minneapolis four-star wide receiver Bryce McNeal, should fit in perfectly at U-M due to his familiarity with the spread offense, Breck High School coach Chris Ohms told Wednesday …

"I certainly think one of the draws for Bryce, and for Michigan, is we run a similar offense and the learning curve in college shouldn't be as steep as if he was going someplace with a completely different kind of offense," Ohms said. "We're one back and three wide receivers.

"Bryce is a deep threat, but we also run a lot of slants with him, bubble screens, one-step quick passes to the outside. Next year, we'll experiment with him in the slot. We won't be afraid to drop him into the backfield, motion him where we hand it off, and, unfortunately, we may use him as a decoy quite a bit because wherever he is two or three defenders seem to go.

"We're hoping our No. 2 and No. 3 receivers really benefit from the attention Bryce will draw as a senior."

The No. 11 wideout nationally and the No. 70 player overall according to, McNeal made 31 grabs for 705 yards and nine touchdowns in 2007. The 6-foot-2, 170-pounder, with 4.45 speed, is a sure talent, but he also has room to develop.

"Right now, Bryce has Division-I hands and route-running ability - those are his best attributes," Ohms said. "We're always asking him, as a coaching staff, to improve and Bryce needs to get stronger and he needs to run at a consistently high speed. He's had some good 40 times but he can get faster.

"There is no denying that he is a gifted player, and we're fortunate to have him at our program. With his size, he just needs to get stronger so that when he gets to the Big Ten he's not getting tangled up by those pressing cornerbacks."

Though Ohms has yet to meet U-M coach Rich Rodriguez personally, he has confidence the Wolverines' first-year man will get the most out of McNeal. Ohms acknowledged he'll take a little heat from Golden Gophers' fans but couldn't be happier his prized prospect - the only current four-star Minnesotan - is heading to Ann Arbor.

"There are a few reasons why Bryce liked Michigan, and first off is because his family really liked it and he's definitely a family person," Ohms said. "Definitely the tradition - he's a big tradition guy and so am I. Michigan is one of those unparalleled schools, along with just a handful of others, that has such a deep tradition.

"The other thing, and this was big, was the sincerity of the coaches. I know Bryce is really impressed with Rich. I've talked to a few Michigan assistants and in five minutes you know if a guy is genuine or not and that was big for me because all of those guys sound like truly they believe what they're sharing with you.

"We've had a lot of top players go to different programs - USC, Boston College, Northwestern - but this is our first Michigan kid and that's very exciting for us. It'll be nice to open that channel for future possibilities as well."

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