The Ballad of Bryce McNeal

A series exploring the commitments (and subsequent decommitments) of Michigan’s lost members of the class of 2009. 

The Commitment
Michigan fans knew about McNeal for quite some time before he committed. He was offered in March, and the Wolverines quickly moved near the top of the list, along with the in-state Gophers. After being invited to participate in the Army All-American game, McNeal stated that would like to announce his final decision at that time. However, Michigan fans were given an early present when he committed on May 1st… or were they? He later came out and said he had not in fact committed to the Wolverines (though most fans believe that a silent commitment was given at that time). Within a few weeks though, on the verge of a visit to Ann Arbor, Bryce made a public commitment to Michigan.

The Decommitment
Over the summer, McNeal made some comments to the effect that he would like to take some visits to schools other than Michigan. The coaching staff, understandably, wasn’t so keen on this idea, and quickly informed him that, if he were to remain committed to Michigan, this was not an option. However, when October rolled around, he reiterated his desire to go on other campus officials, and thus began the souring of his relationship with the Wolverines’ coaching staff. He officially decommitted from Michigan on October 16th, and opened up the recruiting process to other schools.

The Impact
In the end, McNeal got what he wanted all along: an official commitment at the Army All-American game, in which he chose Clemson. Michigan obviously wanted to hold onto McNeal’s commitment, hence the restrictions on his being able to visit elsewhere, but he wasn’t such an important recruit that they just let him do whatever he want in terms of visits, while still remaining committed to the Wolverines (as they were willing to do with William Campbell, before his “decommitment”). McNeal’s spot in the class was filled by Je’Ron Stokes, a more highly-rated guy, and the rest is history.

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