By Michael Swain
LAWRENCE, Kan. (247Sports.com) – When Devin Neal met with reporters at Big 12 Media Days back in July, he made it no secret that his goal is to play in the NFL. He took a step toward that goal last offseason, working out with NFL players like Leonard Fournette at a training facility down in Florida. And after Neal closed the book on his 2023 regular season with another rushing performance of over 100 yards, he made it known that going through the season healthy and able to contribute was also a goal of his.
Now that the 2023 season is complete, Neal has a decision to make. He just put together a 1,000-yard rushing regular season (1,209 yards to be exact) that now ranks No. 4 in KU’s all-time single-season record books. He also scored 16 rushing touchdowns during the season, which is the second most for a KU player in a single season in program history. Neal was a key contributor in KU’s success on offense and showcased improvement over his sophomore season.
Neal said he’s going to take in all the information he can get before the NFL Draft entry deadline on Jan. 15.
“It’s definitely unique, I’m weighing all the options,” Neal said. “I haven’t made any decision either way. So just talking with different coaches, talking with my family, just praying about it, honestly. It’s really hard. I have everything here, too. So that’s one thing that’s really important to me and I’m super excited about it as well. So I’m definitely going to weigh the options and see what way it’s going to.”
Neal said there are pros and cons that he has to weigh during his discussions with his family and coaches.
“I mean obviously there are risks with coming back, injuries, knock on wood wherever it is,” Neal said. “There are different aspects but for me, there’s a dream in each hand. So that’s what makes it a lot more challenging and a lot more to consider. But obviously, I am weighing the pros and cons of both. As scary as it is, it is also exciting too. Sometimes we have to remember that as well. So it’s definitely cool in that aspect as well.”
If Neal does return to KU, he’ll have a very good shot to become the all-time leading rusher in KU history. He enters KU’s bowl game ranking No. 5 in career rushing yards and 835 yards off of June Henley’s record of 3,841 rushing yards.
The Lawrence native said that the record sits in the back of his mind as he makes the decision.
“It definitely does,” Neal said. “Like I said, I have a dream in each hand. So one dream is obviously that and the other one’s the NFL. So that definitely weighs into my decision. And if I wanted to continue to come back and do some special too.”
Neal said he is going to take his time making the decision and will make his final choice when he feels right.
“It’s a tough road to navigate,” Neal said. “But luckily, I have the right guidance in my life with my family and with the coaching staff here too. So I feel confident in whatever decision I make.”