I had an inkling that UND may start recruiting the ‘Land of Lincoln’ when it became apparent they were leaving the Big Sky to join the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
That came to fruition this past year when the Hawks signed Illinois products Jagger Ferden and Quinn Urwiler to the Class of 2020. To add to those two, UND has already gotten commitments from Tanner Koziol and Cole Davis to the Class of 2021. The latest commit is undoubtedly the biggest, however.
Standout inside linebacker Malachi McNeal of Warren Township High School announced yesterday that he was committing to the Hawks. The commitment video he made is in the Twitter post below. McNeal is the first inside linebacker in this class for coach Bubba Schweigert and the 14th overall commit to the 2021 class, which can be seen over at our 2021 Recruiting Class page.
Warren Township is a 8A powerhouse in Illinois, the highest level the state offers. They went 13-1 last season, losing in the state championship game to Lincoln-Way East.
— Malachi McNeal (@mcneal_malachi) September 7, 2020
McNeal is a highly-ranked linebacker by most of the recruiting services. Rivals has him as the 25th best prospect overall in IL and the #4 linebacker in this class. 247 has McNeal 32nd overall and the #3 linebacker.
When watching the tape it’s easy to see why he is such a coveted player. McNeal plays with a passion and is always around the ball, whether it’s defense or special teams. His instincts for a middle linebacker are probably his best trait – he just seems built to run a defense and be that prototypical dominant ILB. At 6″0-220, he has a thick frame and is well-suited to be a thumper on the inside vs. the MVFC programs and their physical running games.
McNeal’s speed seems decent but he is the type of player that plays much faster via the mental game – making his reads and flowing quickly to the ball. He seemed to have a lot of interest from the MAC schools and some PWO talk from the Big Ten but at 6″0″ he isn’t the “right” size that they are looking for and it surely scared some away. These are the type of players that fall to an FCS school like UND and turn out to be total steals, all because they were 2″ too short.
To date, McNeal has tallied 87 tackles, 19 TFL’s, 4 FF, 3 FR, 1 INT, and 6 sacks. That’s an active man.