Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
We continue our Senior Spotlight series with offensive players
Kenric McNeal, like so many of the other seniors in this class, stepped in and contributed immediately as a freshman. As in, he caught a 44-yard touchdown in his very first college game. He was a mainstay in the sizable wide receiver rotation in Mike Sherman's offense, and also chipped in as a solid punt returner for much of the 2010 season.
McNeal missed the final eight games of his junior year with an injury, but would return without missing a beat to have his best season yet as a senior in 2012. He was able to make the transition to the Air Raid seamlessly, and his 14 yards per reception average was one of the highest on the team. Kingsbury and Sumlin also took advantage of his background as a prolific high school quarterback, drawing up a fake sweep pass play that worked for big yardage against both Florida and Oklahoma. McNeal had the highest QB efficiency rating on the team, naturally, on 2 of 3 passing for 67 yards.
But perhaps his most important role this season was that of downfield blocker. Manziel's sideline tightrope in the Cotton Bowl was only possible because #5 was still on his block almost all the way into the endzone. It's a common theme in most of the highlight runs this year: all of our wideouts were extremely disciplined and gave great effort down the field as blockers, but McNeal was always leading the pack.
SMU 2012. McNeal made several great plays in key games (his diving grab inside the 10 in Tuscaloosa was one of the season's prettiest catches), but this one will always be memorable for Aggie fans because it's the first time we saw Manziel do something in the pocket that seemed impossible, then make an absurd-looking off-balance throw that somehow resulted in a touchdown. McNeal made the play happen by not giving up and working back to his QB, and was rewarded with the easy score.