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Lorenzo Neal might have been one of the best blockers in NFL history, but it likely requires a larger man to block Lorenzo Neal Jr.
The 6-foot-2, 315-pound defensive tackle from Houston is 3 inches taller and 50-60 pounds heavier than his four-time Pro Bowl father, who played for eight NFL teams over 16 seasons.
And he plans to be a Ute, he announced Monday.
Neal's dad bonded with Utah defensive coordinator John Pease as a rookie in New Orleans, and both parents knew running backs coach Dennis Erickson before Utah ever had any interest in their son.
"It was kind of cool going back up there and realizing the relationship they had with my family," said Neal, who attended a Utah satellite camp in June and visited Salt Lake City two weeks ago. Pease told him it would be "an honor" to coach the son of one of his favorite players, and the younger Neal found when he talked to his dad that it wasn't lip service: They really were close.
St. Thomas High coach Tim Fitzpatrick said Monday that as a private school student St. Thomas is an all-boys Catholic school Neal may have flown under the radar.
He has the explosiveness his dad had, Fitzpatrick said. "He's got that fast-twitch. ... He's just in a bigger box."
Neal is rated just two stars by Rivals, but the site lists offers from Purdue, Boise State, Oregon State, Nevada and his father's alma mater, Week Three opponent Fresno State.
Neal usually lines up at nose guard but is agile and quick enough that Fitzpatrick might line him up at end this season, a nightmare scenario for smaller tackles who have to account for him one-on-one. Neal also has the endurance enough to play on both sides of the ball for St. Thomas (which, incidentally, also employs former Utah running back Pierre Jones as an assistant).
Neal didn't want to go to a school that would see his large frame and pigeonhole him as a run-stopping nose tackle, and at Utah, he believes he can be an every-down player. He said his commitment to the U. is "not going to change on my side unless it changes on their side."
Neal lives with his mom, Carla, in Houston, and spent half the summer with his dad, who works in Fresno and San Diego.
He scored a 27 on his ACT and an 1880 on his SAT and thinks he will pursue either engineering or business at the U.
"He's an old soul," Fitzpatrick said. "He's got a good head on his shoulders. ... He carries himself with a little more maturity, I think, than some kids."
Below are links to the committed recruits that The Tribune has reported on.