Okeechobee’s Evan Neal to play for University of Alabama

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee’s Evan Neal announced that he has decided to accept an offer to play football at the University of Alabama on Dec. 19 in the Okeechobee High school gym. The announcement was broadcast live on ESPN.

Neal is rated as the 5th best offensive lineman in the nation as well as the 20th best player overall and had offers from over 20 different schools, including Florida State, Georgia, the University of Miami and Florida.


“First off I want to thank God,” said Neal shortly before announcing his decision. “He’s the reason I’m in the position I’m in today. I want to thank my family and friends for being a great supporting cast. And without further adieu, for the next three or four years I will be attending the University of Alabama. Roll Tide.”

Shouts of ‘Roll Tide’ broke out in the OHS gym among Neal’s family, friends and supporters as he put on the Alabama hat.

Neal played his freshman year for the Okeechobee Brahmans before transferring to IMG Academy in Bradenton in his sophomore year. Although it wasn’t a easy decision for Neal to leave his hometown and high school football team, ultimately IMG offered the best chance at being chosen by a division 1 college. Former Okeechobee head coach Chris Branham supported Neal’s decision, which has paid off as Neal now found himself playing for one of the premier college football programs in the country.

Even though he had spent more time playing for IMG than the Brahmans, Neal still decided to announce his decision in his hometown of Okeechobee.

Neal has been supportive of his hometown throughout his time at IMG. When the 8U little league All-Stars team from Okeechobee made the World Series over the summer, Neal declared his support and pride in the kids on his social media.

“Okeechobee is important to me because this is where I came up,” said Neal in an interview with Lake Okeechobee News after the announcement. “I want to see everyone in Okeechobee succeed. From the kids to the adults I just want to see everyone prosper in my hometown.”

Neal joins an Alabama football program that has gone an impressive 140-20 during head coach Nick Saban’s 11 years with the team, including 14 bowl game appearances with 10 victories, seven SEC Western Division titles, six SEC championships, and five national championships.

“I want to show kids here in Okeechobee that they can do the same thing I’m doing,” continued Neal. “It’s not impossible. I remember growing up here and watching college football and wondering if I would be able to do that one day. I just want to be a testament to the kids here that you can do it.”

Richard Marion is a staff writer and photographer at Lake Okeechobee News and can be reached at rmarion@newszap.com.

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