RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Alim McNeill runs onto the Carter Finley Stadium turf for the final time. It’s senior day at N.C. State and this junior from nearby Sanderson High School have decided to take his game to the next level.
“I was really not focused on that this season I was just trying to let my play do the talking,” McNeill explained. “I guess it has so far.”
“There was a lot of talking and meetings with my parents and coaches to come up with that decision.”
Just three years ago, McNeill was an inside linebacker at Sanderson but even then most colleges pegged him for the defensive line. N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren was a regular on the sidelines at McNeill’s games. He’s watched his star grow into one of the nation’s best defensive linemen.
“If they’re going to single block him it’s a tough task,” said Doeren. “For most of this season, he’s been able to disrupt blocking schemes and create run-throughs for linebackers or make plays on his own.”
One play that stands out, is his “big man” pick-six touchdown at Virginia. But for the most part, McNeill’s name is rarely heard on game day. It’s his job to occupy linemen, take up space, and help others make tackles. It’s no secret why Wolfpack linebacker Payton Wilson has suddenly become a star.
“I’ve seen teams triple-team Alim,” gushed teammate Joe Sculthorpe. “It frees up linebackers to go make plays, giving them opportunities to shut down other teams’ offenses.”
McNeill has not said if he will play in the Pack’s bowl game but indicated he is leaning toward suiting up. One final chance to wear the Red and White.
“I loved my experience here at N.C. State,” McNeill reflected. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”