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December 10, 2003Word has finally spread around the country about Oakland (Cal.) Skyline wide receiver Kenny O'Neal. O'Neal's stock as a college prospect was a mystery for months, but he has finally arrived on the scene and like the saying goes, it is better late than never.
When Rivals.com released its new rankings at the beginning of December, O'Neal surged into the recruiting picture. O'Neal earned a four-star rating and a spot in the top 20 of the wide receiver rankings landing at number 19.
While the public has been on the outside of O'Neal's recruiting, college coaches have always been well aware of O'Neal's talents.
"Recruiting started to pick up in February and people started to figure out who I was," O'Neal said.
O'Neal has begun to narrow down his list of suitors. O'Neal sports about 15-20 offers but his top four are Georgia, Oregon, Florida and Southern California and has official visits scheduled with these four schools.
O'Neal will visit Georgia this coming weekend (Dec.12), Oregon on Jan. 9, Florida on Jan. 16 and USC on Jan. 23.
"All I am going to take is four (official visits)," O' Neal said.
O' Neal , a speedster, gave InsidetheGators.net the rundown on why these four teams made the cut:
"I like Florida and USC because they have good track programs and the coaching for the football teams are wonderful. They are both top football programs as well."
"Oregon is close to home and my parents won't have to travel far to go to the games. I like the wide receivers coach too."
"I like Georgia because I am from Georgia and there is nothing like playing for hometown."
O'Neal has lived a well-traveled life to get where he is today. O'Neal was born in California, but then moved to Georgia to live with his grandparents. He moved back to California at age 11 and then headed back to Georgia and Savannah (Ga.) Military School at age 13. He finally moved back to California in February.
While in Georgia, O'Neal trained hard to become a track star as well as a football star. His track career reached a pinnacle this summer, when he trained in Barbados with Team USA and then ran in the World Games. O'Neal finished second in the 100 meters and earned the title as the second-fastest person in the world under the age of 20, with his time of 10.40 seconds.
Skyline's season and O'Neal's high school career came to an end last weekend when Skyline lost to Oakland Tech 55-47 in the Silver Bowl. In the game, O'Neal had four receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns, to bring his season totals to 35 receptions for 900 yards and 22 touchdowns.
With the football season over, O'Neal is going to take a short break before he heads over to the track team.
"What I am going to do is take a week's rest and then next week I am going to be on the weights," O'Neal said. "Then the week following after that is track."
Track and football are a huge part of O'Neal's life and he is not planning on giving up either sport when he gets to college. Track coaches are recruiting O'Neal as well and both the track and football programs are going to play the same role in O'Neal's final decision.
"I am looking for a good (football) coach and also a good track program," O'Neal said. "I'm looking to see how the players get along with the coaches and the coaches get along with the players."
O'Neal has quite a week ahead of him. He will receive in-house visits from South Carolina and USC and will cap his week off with his official visit to Georgia. Then when he gets back he will have an in-house visit from the Oregon coaches next week.
For the Florida Gators, making it out to California on a visit is tough and as of now the Gators have no in-home visit scheduled with O'Neal, but recruiting coordinator Mike Locksley makes sure to let O'Neal know he is wanted in Gainesville, as he calls him two to three times a week.
"He (Locksley) is telling me about the speed they have," O'Neal said. "The people coming back next year and the future of the program."
South Carolina is persistent in recruiting O'Neal despite him announcing a top four. With South Carolina making an in-home visit, O'Neal could very well be officially visiting South Carolina in the future.
"If they set up a visit, then I will visit. But I am not sure how they will fit in the top four," O'Neal said.
O'Neal is almost sure that he will wind up at either Florida, Georgia, USC or Oregon.
"Well, those four, that is where I am choosing from," O'Neal said.
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