May 5, 2008

McNeal waiting to hear about shoulder injury

It's been on his mind on a daily basis.

Curtis McNeal can't wait to get to USC and start working out with the team. However, McNeal said Sunday that something could get into the way.

"I've been having some shoulder problems. It hasn't fully healed so I might need surgery," McNeal said. "It separated a few times. There's no guarantee."

McNeal will visit with a doctor Monday, and he said he expects to find out whether or not surgery will be required.

The injury occurred a few games into Moody McNeal's senior season. The three-star running back from Los Angeles (Calif.) Venice didn't let the injury slow his production. In his senior year, McNeal rushed for over 1,300 yards and scored 24 touchdowns.

He followed that up by playing point guard in the winter and running a leg on Venice's 400-meter relay team.

"Track's helped me with my stamina. It helps when I make those long runs," he said. "In basketball, I played point guard, and it showed me how to set things up."

McNeal's also been working in the classroom, and with test results on the way, he said he's on track to qualify and arrive on campus for summer workouts.

He's also been working his way through the USC playbook in an effort to get ready for the start of his collegiate career.

"I'm trying to get faster so I can adjust to the speed. I'm trying to get stronger and gain some weight so I can take more hits."

Thanks to a diet heavy in fruit, vegetables and protein, McNeal's frame's already grown to 186 pounds.

Now that the recruiting process has ended, McNeal's attitude has changed, and the speedy back's beginning to enjoy the extra attention that comes with being a Trojan.

"You get a lot of attention because it's USC. Everyone knows that you're the person going to play for USC. Sometimes I shy away from the attention and sometimes I don't," McNeal said. "People tell me I shouldn't do that because most people don't have the chance to go to a school like that.

"Now, I'm starting to enjoy it. At first, I didn't."

McNeal took in the Trojan Huddle and liked what he saw from young players like linebacker Chris Galippo. He also said he paid special attention to running back Stafon Johnson.

Being around the team triggered something in his head, a thought he can't escape.

"I'm very excited; I can't wait. It's all I think about - playing at USC. Before I signed and right after I signed, I didn't think about it much," McNeal said. "Now, everything's happening fast.

"It's getting closer and closer."

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