The state of Missouri, also known as the ‘Show Me State' has become a recruiting hotbed for the Sooners over the past few years. Currently, three of the Sooners' eleven starters on offense, Trey Millard (fullback), Tyler Evans (right guard) and Donald Stephenson (left tackle) are from Missouri.
Last year Dan Tapko, Scout.com four-star prospect signed with Oklahoma to play tight end and could have had an impact as a freshman with his blocking ability but recently quit the team due to medical and other issues.
With the 2012 class, the Sooners yet again picked up another top prospect in the country inside the Missouri state lines, this time at receiver in Durron Neal. The 6-foot and 185-pound four-star receiver announced his commitment to the Sooners back in June just a few days after telling GoBlueWolverine of Scout.com that he would wait to announce after his senior season.
"I can't stop smiling," Neal began. "I've been having a good time. A lot of people are excited about me going to OU. They've been saying that's a big time program and they really like the season I had. I've been becoming friends with the tackle from Texas, (John Michael) McGee, I've been talking to him on Facebook. I've been talking to Sterling on Facebook and I've been talking to Trevor (Knight), getting close with my class and really starting to really connect with those guys. We are all trying to go up on an official together and stuff like that."
What was it about the Oklahoma program that led to him changing his mind so quickly and deciding that Norman was where he wanted to play at the next level?
"The family (atmosphere), the togetherness there," Neal stated. "They were just so close to each other and they all just made you feel like you were at home like that was your brother, you know you laugh and you talk and they just look like they have a good time. And they got the father figures in all the coaches and it was what I felt. I just felt like they were my own dad and my brothers."
Obviously Neal and Oklahoma's recent quarterback commitment, Trevor Knight, have already become acquainted with each other and Neal took some time to break down his future quarterbacks' ability.
"Dude is good," Neal said about Knight. "He can move and his arm is very strong. He has good awareness on the field. He knows when to go down and distance, he knows when to dump it off to the short passes. He's got very good accuracy. He's a good pickup for us."
Committing to Oklahoma has had a strong effect on Neal in a positive way and others around him have taken notice as well.
"I'm having fun with it and I can't wait to get there. I talked to [wide receivers] coach [Jay] Norvell the other day just seeing what's up with him. I've been having a good time since my commitment; I've been a different person people tell me. It is a good thing," Neal said.
Neal said he plans to get in contact with Coach Bob Stoops later this week but knows how busy he is. The Sooners' head man will be happy to know that Neal's summer plans are to work hard on getting better on the field.
"Definitely going to be getting a lot stronger and quicker, working on things like my hands more and getting them stronger," Neal explained. "Working on my routes a little bit more and getting out of my breaks faster."
Since his commitment Neal has had to deal with being razzed by his friends about not going to Missouri. Neal says he has plans in the future to get back at all of the haters when school resumes in the fall.
"When they got that commitment from Maty Mauk a friend of mine posted it on my wall on Facebook, I was like 'why would you do that?' Every time I'm in the weight room I say 'OU' but then they will try to throw MIZ in front of it. We've just been having a good time. I haven't worn my OU stuff yet but I'm going to wear it one day at school and they are going to be all upset. I'm going to save that for when we go to school on dress down day and the whole school will be looking and I'm going to be the one smiling."
Back in 2006 Missouri signed a wide receiver by the name of Jeremy Maclin, who at one point was committed to the Sooners and now plays in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles. Maclin was one of the most dangerous players in the country while playing for the Tigers and will go down as one of the greatest to ever play for the university.
There are similarities between Neal and Maclin and their electric ability on the gridiron but Neal does not want to be compared to the NFL star. Instead, he wants to make a name for himself.
"I've been hearing it a lot from some of the people, 'Why didn't you stay in state?' and 'You could be a legend.' I don't want to go to a school where they are going to be comparing me to another man. I hate when people say 'Oh you're J-Mac' (Jeremy Maclin), no, let me make a name for myself. He made his own name now let me make my own name. I appreciate that they say I play like him but I want to make a name for myself. I want someday for one kid to say to another 'Man, you play like Durron Neal.'
When Neal suits up in the Crimson and Cream in 2012 he will be bringing plenty of talent to the field for the Sooners along with some ‘ooohs and ahhhs' he says.
"They should expect to see some highlights," Neal said about the Sooner Nation. "I'm going to bring some ‘ooohs' and ‘ahhhs' to Norman. I'm going to make a couple of people laugh. God gave me a good instinct; I got the ability to make people miss I see. I'm going to bring a lot of fun and enthusiasm there and a lot of hard work and toughness; I'm a very tough person."
Over his career at DeSmet Jesuit HS Neal has accounted for 46-touchdowns so far and will look to add quite a bit more to that total next season. Neal will be playing the slot position for the Sooners and with his ability in the open field should be a nightmare for linebackers and safeties to cover.