RECRUITING: JUCO offensive tackle explains commitment to Iowa State

James Neal’s first contact with the Iowa State coaching staff came last Wednesday. The junior college offensive tackle was on campus in Ames for an official visit a few days later.

On Monday night, Neal announced he had committed to the Cyclones.

“It’s a little bit of a weight off my shoulders,” Neal said. “Coach (Jeff) Myers came up and just seemed really excited to talk to me. I had a feeling that he would offer me just the way the conversation was going.”

Neal, a 6-foot-6, 300-pound offensive tackle out of Independence C.C., is ranked as the No. 7 JUCO tackle in the country by 247Sports. The Loganville, Ga. native, considered the No. 58 JUCO prospect in the country, also held offers from Florida Atlantic, Georgia Tech, UMass, Towson and North Alabama.

“Initially (what attracted me) was that it was a bigger school,” Neal said. “Once I got to the campus, met the players and coaches, I just kind of fell in love with it. The players are good guys and the coaches are good guys. I liked it.”

Neal will join the Cyclones to bolster the program’s offensive line immediately and, hopefully, put himself in a position to play at the professional level.

“They drilled in that they could get me to the league,” Neal said. “They wanted to make sure that I was making the right ’30-year decision.’ That’s what they called it. They want to develop me off the football field, too… I’m ready. Based on the visit, I’m sure it will be a great time. I’m excited.”