College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about Auburn football in this edition of his…
McNeal Returning to AU for Pro Day And More
Auburn, Ala.--Demetruce McNeal, who missed Auburn's 2013 SEC football championship season after being dismissed from the team two weeks before the season opener, will be participating with his former teammates at Auburn's Pro Day on Tuesday. McNeal, who was projected to be a starter at safety in 2013 after leading the 2012 team in tackles, transferred to Division II program West Alabama where he was immediately eligible and he had a good senior season there earning third team All-America status. Now trying to impress pro scouts prior to the 2014 National Football League Draft, McNeal said he appreciates the opportunity to participate in Auburn's pro day event and is eager to show what he can do. "I have been working out with Coach (David) Irons and I am ready for Tuesday," McNeal said. "I worked out with Coach Irons for eight weeks." Coach Irons is David Irons, Sr., of the Georgia Training Alliance in Atlanta, whose sons David, Jr. and Kenny were standout football players for the Tigers. Kenny Irons played running back for Auburn and David Irons was a cornerback. "Demetruce came to us and he worked hard," Irons said. "I am excited for him. Demetruce is an extremely gifted athlete and the scouts are going to love him. I talked scouts at the NFL Combine about him and they all think he is a freak athlete and they are looking forward to seeing him at Auburn's pro day." Irons said he believes that McNeal's athletic ability that will be on display Tuesday, combined with his performances on the field at Auburn and West Alabama, will result in the safety being drafted somewhere in the fifth round. In August, following an arrest in which he was charged with second degree marijuana possession (a misdemeanor), Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn told the defensive back he could no longer be a part of the team. McNeal said at the time he wasn't guilty and the charges were later dropped, but by that time he was no longer a part of the Auburn team. "Once you get to know Demetruce you get to know what a great kid he is," said Irons, who added that he believes the football player had low self-esteem issues. The coach said that he believes McNeal has come a long way in that area. "Demetruce exceeded my expectations for him," Irons said. "He has worked extremely hard. "He met with Coach Malzahn and the academic advisers at Auburn last week and told them it is important to him that he return to Auburn, finish his classes and earn an Auburn degree," Irons pointed out. "Right now the plan is for Demetrius to enroll for classes at Auburn this summer." McNeal noted that getting the charges dropped was something he expected would happen. "That was a big deal to me because I didn't want any red flags to be thrown up about me as a pro prospect," he said. "I was innocent the whole time and I did nothing wrong, but Coach Malzahn had to make a decision at the time and I respect that and I still love him." The defensive back's focus is currently on football and he is excited about that. "Tuesday is a big day for me, especially being able to come back to Auburn to do it," he said. McNeal said he expects he will weigh in at around 195 pounds in the six-foot-two range for the pro scouts. Demetruce McNeal made 53 solo tackles with 37 assists during the 2012 season at Auburn. He was also a starter as a sophomore in 2011 when he made 45 solo tackles with 29 assists. The former Banneker High star from Atlanta missed being part of the excitement of Malzahn's first season as head coach at Auburn, but got to play on a strong West Alabama team. Last fall he tied for the team lead in tackles with 63 and led the Division II Tigers in interceptions with three while earning first team All-Gulf South Conference honors. "We had a good team, a fun team" he said. Asked what his expectations are for pro day, McNeal said, "I am just going to try to do the best I can whether it is the bench press, the 40, the vertical jump or whatever. I am really not trying to set expectations or think about it too much. I just want to go out there and do what I trained to do. I am going to give it my best shot."
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