The exact details surrounding the indefinite suspension of Texas Longhorns wide receiver DeAndre McNeal are still unclear to the public beyond the boilerplate violation of team rules statement afforded by the school, but it seems that even head coach Charlie Strong is waiting to find out what exactly happened.
During a press conference on Friday to officially herald the start of fall camp as players reported for the 2016 season, head coach Charlie Strong said that the school is still “gathering all the facts” regarding whatever incident or incidences led to the suspension and will continue the process of determining a path forward with the process after doing so, which includes the length of the suspension, possible punishments, and whether McNeal will ultimately be dismissed from the program.
A 6’2, 234-pounder from Mesquite, McNeal was a teammate of rising sophomore linebacker Malik Jefferson and committed to Texas on the same day. By the end of the process, McNeal was a consensus four-star prospect in the 2015 class and was ranked as the No. 20 athlete nationally, according to the 247Sports Composite.
After gaining a significant amount of weight upon his arrival, he was briefly moved from wide receiver to tight end during fall camp, but ended up back at wide receiver before appearing in 10 games on offense and special teams.
Against Oklahoma State, McNeal received one carry that went for nine yards. He also made a special teams tackle against Kansas State, but did not record a catch.
In the Orange and White game this spring, McNeal was targeted several times, but was unable to come up with any catches, as he was unable to control multiple passes that hit his hands.
It appears that he didn’t respond well this summer to the frustration surrounding those struggles.
The still-murky news from the program all clearly indicates the McNeal situation is unusual in the history of suspensions under Strong — during the time when Strong was dismissing and suspending players from the program in 2014 for violating team rules, there was never any mention of a situation that needed clarification or more facts and the decisions by Strong followed several rounds of summer drug testing.
The Texas head coaches gave those players chances, they continued to make mistakes, and some were dismissed. Some, like former wide receiver Daje Johnson, were given precise stipulations they had to follow.
For Johnson and safety Josh Turner, following the behavioral expectations laid out for them by Strong and his staff allowed them to eventually return relatively early in the season.
But something else is going on with McNeal that requires further investigation and has resulted in him being sent home, which is also unprecedented in Strong’s tenure, as Turner and Johnson remained with the team and continued practicing while serving their respective suspensions.
Given the public lack of knowledge about what happened, It’s difficult to speculate about what went down with McNeal.
However, the unusual circumstances surrounding his particular violation of team rules means that McNeal may require some type of vindication from or key clarifications about the situation in order to return to the team.