GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota football program hopes it has landed a key piece of its offensive future.
And the Fighting Hawks might get an up-close look at the new weapon this spring.
Quarterback Reid Neal, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound Yorktown (Ind.) High School product, gave his verbal commitment Monday, Oct. 7, to play for UND.
For now, he plans to sign a National Letter of Intent in December and enroll early at UND in order to participate in spring ball.
"That's the plan right now," Neal said of early enrollment. "That's something me and coach Freund and coach Bubba talked about it. We think that'd be a good idea."
Neal visited UND last weekend and attended the Hawks' 38-36 win over then-No. 12 UC Davis.
"The visit alone was awesome, and the facilities were awesome," Neal said. "The game itself was better. You couldn't ask for a better all-around weekend."
This summer, Neal emailed schools around the country to gauge recruiting interest. UND emailed back.
"They watched the film and that's how I got in contact," Neal said.
During UND's bye week last month, UND offensive coordinator Danny Freund went to Indiana to view Neal in person. Neal ran for four touchdowns.
Neal said his relationship with Freund was a big selling point. He's heard from teams in the MAC and the Big Ten, as well as FCS schools like Indiana State, Illinois State and Elon.
"I cherish that," Neal said. "It's not always like that to have a coach feel the same way as you."
Yorktown, which plays at the 3A level of a six-class Indiana system, is 5-2.
This season, Neal is 107-for-186 passing for 1,373 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions. He's also ran 52 times for 341 yards and six touchdowns. For his three-year starting career, Neal has 4,672 yards, 53 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. His rushing career includes 1,364 yards and 18 touchdowns.
"He's as athletic as a quarterback can be," said Yorktown coach Mike Wilhelm, whose been the head coach there for 15 years. "He has great feet. He gets out of bad situations. We probably could've given up 30 sacks this year, but we've only got 12. It's just because his feet are so good and he can make throws on the run. That's his biggest attribute."
Neal comes from an athletic family. His dad played college football at Ball State. His older brother, Riley, played at Ball State, too, before graduate transferring to Vanderbilt, where he's the starter this season at quarterback. His sister plays volleyball at Toledo.
Seeing Riley go through the recruiting process was a help for Reid, he said.
"I don't want to say I knew exactly what to expect, but I knew what I was getting into and knew to be patient," Reid said. "Kids always want big offers right away, but Riley didn't get an offer until his senior year. I knew something was going to happen. I just had to be patient."
Neal enters a UND quarterback position group that will grow alarmingly thin following this season. UND's top two quarterbacks, when healthy this season, are seniors Nate Ketteringham and Andrew Zimmerman.
True freshman Tommy Schuster played earlier this year against Sam Houston State.
Neal said that's an intriguing situation but stressed he isn't shying away from competition.
"Anywhere I was going to play, I would want to compete," Neal said. "(The lack of UND quarterback depth) played a part, but I was ready to compete."