Aug 2, 2012
Hillside tight end Josh McNeil won't suit for the Hornets this season.
According to head coach Antonio King, McNeil graduated from Hillside High School this summer and will attend a prep school this fall before enrolling at Alabama next spring.
King said McNeil, who is 17-years-old, followed the advice of a basketball coach to reclassify at a private school in Charlotte out of eighth grade, which impacted his eight semester of high school eligibility, according to N.C. High School Athletic Association rules.
The NCHSAA states that a student-athlete only has eight semesters of athletic eligibility with their initial high school graduating class.
McNeil has not decided which prep school he will attend, according to King, but Hargrave is a possible destination.
"He's still a raw talent because he doesn't have that much experience, but he brings a lot of passion and aggression to the field. He has a tremendous upside," King said of McNeil, who played football for the first time last season.
"I thought he was going to be a defensive player, but when we went to ECU for our first 7-on-7, to see him compete and run routes for the first time, you kind of had an idea that this guy could be a dominant tight end," said King. "The strides he made from last year to this year, it would have been real scary to see him playing one more year of high school football."
Losing a tight end who is going to play in the Southeastern Conference would be a hard thing for most high school coaches to stomach, but King says the team will have to move on.
"It doesn't really change our game plan. We had the luxury of having two division one tight ends," he said.
Javien Knight is another 6-foot-3, 230-pound senior tight end at Hillside. King says Knight already reports over a dozen offers from Division-I programs.
"No one wants to lost a talent like that, but we've lost it before, and it's just time for the next person to step up," said King.
Hillside will open the season on Aug. 17, at New Bern. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.