Keanu Neal Ready for the Opportunity

Keanu Neal

The Florida Gators reeled in one of the top secondary groups in the country in the 2013 class. Under Armour All-American Keanu Neal was an early commitment for the Gators and a guy that absolutely sees the great opportunity ahead of him at Florida with the departure of both safeties to the NFL.

Coming off of a senior season with over 70 tackles and four interceptions, Keanu Neal also played a little fullback for Bushnell South Sumter showing off his physical play on both sides of the ball.

It was that physical play along with his size and speed of the 6'0", 200 pound head buster that grabbed the attention of college scouts around the southeast. Although Neal says just South Carolina remained hot on his trail after committing to Florida. Everyone else knew he was set on being a Gator.

"It wasn't really hard," Neal said of fighting off other schools. "Florida is a great program, athletically and academically. It is close to home, about an hour away. I want my family to support me in the stands. That is something I really looked into.

"Who wouldn't want to go to a school that prestigious and have your family be able to come and support you in the stands."

Plus, he loved the way these Gators play on defense and it suits his style to a tee. He also realizes the opportunity he has to come in and compete with all the playing time available from the departures.

"They play fast and physical," he said of the Florida safeties. "They make a lot of plays. I have to come in with the mindset that I am going to do that. I am going to keep that legacy going and make plays.

"It is an extraordinary opportunity for me. There are two safety spots open and the nickel open. Those are three that are open and up for grabs and that is the mentality I have to have."

The Florida staff hasn't really designated Neal to any specific position, but he feels at home closer to the action.

"I would probably say strong safety, because they are more in the box," he said about where he feels most comfortable. "I am used to that because I played linebacker my freshman and sophomore year."

He also has seen firsthand the coaching that has been done and expects a lot from a head coach in Will Muschamp that played the position in college and also coaches it at practice every day.

"I am looking forward to it," he said of practice with his future team. "It lets me know the safety position is important when the head coach in the meetings and actually coaching the DB's as well."

He's also looking forward to the competition. He's already good friends with fellow safety signee Marcell Harris and knows Nick Washington as well. He knows they will all get after it.

"They are great people," Neal said. "Competition wise, we will all compete for it. I look forward to competing against them and fighting for a starting spot."

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