Defensive MVP: Bay’s McNeil had a stronger senior season

Published: Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 18:38 PM.

PANAMA CITY — Keith McNeil isn’t experiencing a holiday break like most high school students. As a member of Bay’s boys basketball team he’ll be participating in the annual Barnstorm Classic tournament that begins on Thursday and runs through next Saturday.

Once that event ends, McNeil will trade his sneakers for cleats and begin practice for the All-American Bowl Game Classic high school football showcase that is scheduled for Jan. 3 at Tommy Oliver Stadium.

The competition against some of the better high school seniors nationwide will be good preparation for McNeil playing Division I football beginning next fall. He has verbally committed to the University of South Alabama and the added exposure could garner other offers before national signing day in February.

It is somewhat of a whirlwind two weeks for McNeil, who used his 2013 season as preparation for the next phase of his life.

McNeil is The News Herald’s Defensive Player of the Year off his consistent performance for the most consistent defense in the county this fall.

A 6-foot-3, 230-pound defensive end, McNeil has progressed a long way from being able to bench press only 95 pounds when he first arrived at Bay.

“He got stronger and a lot more technically sound,” Tornadoes head coach Jimmy Longerbeam said. “He matured a lot as a student, as a kid, and he matured a lot as a football player.”

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