Nebraska has survived almost two months of uncertainty with DaiShon Neal, getting a reassurance Tuesday that the Omaha Central defensive end would sign with the Huskers next week.
Neal will become the first Husker recruit from Central since offensive lineman D.J. Jones in 2006.
The 6-foot-7, 245-pound Neal visited Nebraska last weekend and then hosted Michigan on Monday night. He called NU assistant coach Hank Hughes shortly after the Wolverines’ visit did not go well.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Neal said Tuesday morning on the “Sharp and Benning Show” on 1620 AM KOZN. “I can’t wait, because I want to bring everything I got to this table to help the team down in Lincoln.”
Although Neal accepted a Nebraska scholarship offer last April and never formally decommitted, his status had been in flux in the weeks after Bo Pelini was fired as Husker head coach on Nov. 30.
It was fueled by recruiting interest from Oregon, Iowa, Oklahoma and then Michigan, and the likelihood that NU assistant coach Rick Kaczenski would be let go as Mike Riley started building his own staff.
Neal made his announcement on the radio after feeling he had done his due diligence with the process.
“The reason everything started is because I had a good relationship with the old coaching staff,” he said. “I really committed to Coach Kaczenski. He was a great coach and I loved what he said to me. Then the fan base got rid of the entire coaching staff. So, I mean, you can’t be mad at me just for looking around.”
Central coach Jay Ball said Tuesday that he tried to leave the decision to Neal and his family, but thought that Neal going to NU would be good for the Eagles and Omaha football.
“I think with the new staff it just made him think about it a little bit,” Ball said. “He lost the guys that recruited him, but certainly it didn’t take long to build a relationship with the new staff. He told me the home visit went fantastic (on Jan. 15) and then he had a good visit this last week.”
“It just helped me a lot, just to decide, that this is my brotherhood right here,” he said. “My family’s already in Lincoln.”
Neal and his father, former Central and Purdue receiver Abe Hoskins, also said they were put off by something Michigan assistant coach Greg Mattison said during the Wolverines’ visit. Until then, Hoskins said, they were likely “leaning toward Michigan.”
“Michigan was a powerhouse. They came in and they stormed us ... they made one bad statement and ruined it,” Hoskins said during the “Sharp and Benning Show” in-studio visit. “They said without football DaiShon wouldn’t be able to go to Michigan, like we couldn’t afford to send him there or we couldn’t get him (in) academically.”
Neal interjected: “They basically tried to call me stupid in front of my face.”
Hoskins continued: “Once he said that, we pretty much escorted him out of the house.”
Neal said he liked the attention Oklahoma showed him. But didn’t think the Sooners’ 3-4 defense was a good fit, he didn’t like “small campuses” and said the OU stadium “wasn’t even close to what Nebraska has, nor the facility.”
Other selling points for NU, Neal said, were the program’s run of Academic All-Americans and the work that Husker athletes do in the community.
Securing Neal helps Nebraska address a clear need at defensive end. Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 1 player in the state and No. 36 strongside defensive end nationally.
The World-Herald All-Nebraska player had five sacks, 13 tackles for loss, six quarterback hurries and a blocked kick last season for Central. Neal also caught two touchdown passes in a loss to Class A state champion Omaha North.
Neal said he talked Monday night with NU commit Matt Snyder — also a Michigan target — and believes the tight end will sign with the Huskers on Feb. 4.
“I know I can get Matt to stay,” Neal said.
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