Pitt was successful this past recruiting class in adding big, physical offensive lineman with the additions of Terrence Rankl, Terrence Enos, Trey Andersen and Kyle Fugedi.
As they begin to work on their Class of 2022, the staff has their eyes on a big lineman from New York that they hope becomes a future Pitt Panther.
Maleek McNeil is a 2022 three-star offensive tackle from New York and attends school at The Williston Northampton School in Eastampton, Massachusetts. At this point, McNeil (6-foot-8, 330 pounds) holds offers from Pitt, Duke, Boston College, Central Michigan and UMass.
That offer list would no doubt be larger but like many underclassman, McNeil’s recruitment has been impacted by COVID-19 in terms of in-game experience. Last season, McNeil’s team didn’t compete in any games and only conducted in-season practices. This means he hasn’t played in a game since his sophomore season. Despite this obstacle, McNeil has been able to garner Power Five interest, including some from Tim Salem and Dave Borbely.
Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke with McNeil and found out right away that he’s staying positive about his future and is a glass half full kind of person.
“Every since COVID started, I only think my recruiting has gone up because I was able to take the time, because I’ve had some free time because of things getting spread out in school, to really work on my craft,” said McNeil. “The only thing that I believe COVID has taken away from me is my in-game experience, which has probably cut into the offers I have because I have no game film to show teams.”
“The way I’m trying to treat this is that if I just focus on the negative, it isn’t good and will just keep you down and get your miserable because of COVID. I’m just trying to take positives out of the situation and try and get grateful for everything that I can and have gotten from this time.”
One of the things McNeil has been able to do during this time is develop a relationship with the Pitt program, in particular Borbely and Salem and is hoping that continues over the next few months.
“Right now, I’d characterize it as an on-going relationship,” said McNeil. “I’ve recently spoken with Coach Borbs and I believe that it’s going pretty well. During our talks, he’s already been able to tell me some things to work on and things that will improve my game technique wise. One thing that I was doing was, when I was pushing off my front foot, which being on the left side it would be my right foot. He told me I was having enough bend as I should and that’s really helped me a lot and I’ve noticed a big difference as I’ve focused on it. I’ve noticed a big difference as I’ve been able to move faster.”
Although he’s still working to learn more about the Pitt football program and the university itself, he has been able to meet and get to know two current Panther lineman, who are working out at Pro Edge in New Jersey with him: starting left tackle Carter Warren and center Owen Drexel.
With their being no Junior Days or camps that he attend, McNeil plans on working on his individual game as he works to learn virtually about the schools that are showing heavy interest in him like Pitt.
“In order for me to cut down my list of schools, I need to continue to build relationships with coaches and continuing talking with them. I need to try and get a feel for how it is on campus. It’s going to be all about the bond and the relationship at a place that I get a feel for and can see myself going. The connections that I build over the next few months are going to be key for me.”