Breaking: Penn State adds OL Maleek McNeil to Class of 2022
Penn State picked up a commitment Saturday afternoon from Massachusetts prospect Maleek McNeil.
A three-star offensive tackle from Williston Northampton School, McNeil picked up an offer from the Nittany Lions this past February and immediately made it clear that this was a major offer for him. McNeil said his relationship with the staff and Penn State's campus helped him confirm that the Nittany Lions were the right choice.
"For me, the process has been all about finding the best overall fit and Penn State checked all of my boxes, plus some," he said.
Listed at 6-foot-8, 340 pounds, McNeil's athleticism, for his size, is what stands out to Penn State the most. Rivals analyst Adam Friedman feels similarly, adding that McNeil feels like a player who could start at tackle as an upperclassmen following a few years in the program.
"Maleek McNeil is obviously a big offensive lineman that could help a lot on the edges of that offensive front," Friedman said. "He had a little bit too much bad weight on him, for my taste, last year, but he's lost some of that weight now and has trimmed up some, which I think will really help him. His athleticism and strength is great, so if he can continue to refine himself, I think that'll be a really big deal for him, especially when he gets on campus. Certainly, Penn State's strength and conditioning staff know exactly how to work with a player of his size and athleticism, and I think that could really take his potential to a high level."
McNeil is Penn State's ninth commitment in the Class of 2022, and the second offensive lineman, joining Drew Shelton of IMG Academy. He ultimately chose the Nittany Lions from eight offers in total. His top three comprised of Penn State, Rutgers and Boston College.
The timing of McNeil's commitment may seem curious to some observers, with the NCAA dead period set to end on June 1, allowing prospects to take official visits for the first time in more than a year. But McNeil said his destination wouldn't have been any different, and added that he wanted to be respectful of the time of the schools he didn't choose.
"At first, I thought that I was going to need [official visits] in order to make a decision, but ultimately I didn’t," he said.
"I could have waited until summer, went and had a lot fun on [official visits], done summer camps and got more offers when other programs finally got to see me work, but my decision would've been the same. The recruiting process is also stressful. So, the best thing for me to do was to commit now and go focus on my craft and let the staff use their time to go lock in the rest of the team."
Penn State offensive line coach Phil Trautwein played a major part in McNeil's decision. He's also excited to be part of what he called an offensive line "transformation" that he thinks is already underway.
"With Traut, I like his family first style and the way we relate and communicate," McNeil said. "He’s been honest too, he’s going to be hard on me, he’s going to push me to the max physically and mentally and it probably won’t be pretty at times. His approach is actually really similar to that of the PSA Cardinals, the Nike AAU basketball team that I grew up with — tough on you but you know it’s out of love."
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