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July 4, 2012Wilson (N.C.) Hunt defensive end Lewis Neal committed to LSU tonight.
"To make a long story short, I'll be taking my talents to LSU," Neal said in making his public commitment. "Go Tigers."
Neal made the proclamation in his hometown between innings of a Wilson Tobs-Edenton Steamers summer collegiate league baseball game. Addressing the Fleming Stadium crowd on a microphone while standing at home plate, he peeled off his shirt to reveal an LSU t-shirt before making his commitment. The game and Neal's live commitment was streamed over the Internet.
Later on the broadcast, Neal explained his decision in further detail.
"It just felt like home," said Neal, who visited LSU the weekend of June 23rd.
Neal, who de-committed from Ohio State in April, is the 19th pledge for LSU.
He's ranked as the No. 26 weak side defensive end in the country. The three-star prospect holds offers from Clemson, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, NC State, Ohio State, Purdue, South Carolina and Tennessee.
"The conference didn't really matter," he said. "I just felt like in the SEC, it feels like you can get better and reach your best potential. But conference didn't really play in my decision."
Neal said he was excited about the prospect of performing for LSU's rabid fan base.
"It factors in a lot," he said. "That's what you dream of playing in. You've got to make your dreams come true."
Neal doesn't hide his pro aspirations either and likes LSU's track record.
"You can go pro anywhere you go, but you can't make your decision based on getting to the NFL," he said. "It's nice to know that that school puts a lot of players in the NFL from that position."
Listed at 6-1, 235 pounds, Neal made 88 tackles, eight sacks and three forced fumbles as a junior. As a sophomore, Neal registered 96 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
The rising senior helped lead his high school team to a 13-1 record before losing in the Eastern Final to Northern Guilford.
"I'm from Hunt and we love winning," Neal said. "I've got to continue to win."