Florida Gators safety Keanu Neal has decided to forego his final year of eligibility at the University of Florida and declare for the 2016 NFL Draft.
“This was honestly the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but prayer and family support helped a lot,” the safety wrote on his personal Instagram page. “I would like to thank all the coaches, advisers, family members, and friends who have stuck by me and helped me grow as a man. It’s time to take the next step in my life and attain my dream.. something I’ve wanted since I was a little boy.”
Sources told Gator Country that Neal received a top 60 grade (first two rounds) from paperwork he submitted to the NFL Draft advisory council. That is a good grade for a safety and gave Neal a lot to think about.
Neal played in all 12 games as a true freshman in 2013. He was a key member on special teams, recording a team-high five special teams tackles, and was the backup safety. As a sophomore Neal earned a starting spot on the defense. He played in 10 games, earning eight starts. Neal was ninth on the team with 45 tackles, had three interceptions and a fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown.
Heading into his junior season Neal once again was named a starter and he became a leader on one of the best defensive units in the country. He missed the first two games with an injury but played the rest of the season, starting every contest. His 96 tackles were third best on the team and second best among safeties in the SEC.
“Gator Nation, thank you for welcoming me and making my 3 years at UF memorable,” he continued on Instagram. “First day I stepped foot on camps, I knew I made the right decision. Nothing will ever take away the memories and bonds I have gained. I can confidently say that I’ve grown and matured a lot since my first day here, and it is due to the love and support of family, friends, and Gator Nation! I will always bleed orange and blue… Forever a Florida Gator!”