By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- On Tuesday, TCI spoke with freshman quarterback Tony McNeal about how he’s adjusting to not only being in college but learning an entirely new offense.
“Two months ago I was in high school,” McNeal said. “And making the transition from high school to college and trying to help a Division 1 program win has been amazing, I always wanted to come early to whichever school I chose, so I’m really happy with the decision I made.”
The biggest adjustment so far for McNeal football-wise has been the speed of the game and the number of coverages
“The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make so far is to the speed of the game and learning more coverages. In high school you have simple coverages to regular base coverages, and in college you mix it up enrolling the safeties and everything, it’s something I’ve had to get used to.”
Although they are both competing for the role of back-up quarterback, McNeal and freshman Cole Stoudt have had to lean on each other as they learn the new playbook.
“We always help each other out with the pass protections,” McNeal said. “You always have it in the back of your head that it is a competition, but we’re friends and teammates so we help each other out.”
Coming out of Spring Practices, McNeal feels likes he’s made some big plays on offense but still has several areas that need improvement.
“The key things I need to work on are being vocal in the huddle and on the field and footwork,” McNeal said. “Both are main things that you have to work on being a quarterback.”
As for grasping the difficulties of this offense, McNeal feels like he’ll get the hang out it quickly.
“My high school was in the spread offense 95% of the time and this is kind of similar,” McNeal said. “I like to take shots down the field too and so does Coach Morris, we plan on taking shots and I just like the tempo of this offense and keeping pressure on defenses.”
As for the injury McNeal suffered that led to his surgery last October, McNeal stresses that he feels great now and is running the ball better than he did even before the injury.
McNeal hopes to go into summer workouts and continue to compete with Stoudt in hopes to land the back-up position and is focusing on his future instead of thinking about the fact that he’s here in college while the rest of his classmates are still high school students.
“At first when I got here I had moments of homesickness,” McNeal said. “But the Clemson Football program and the staff at Vickery Hall do a great job at keeping all of us first year athletes in check and organized”