Salinas High’s Mike MacNeill to play football at Portland State – Monterey Herald
SALINAS – Fulfillment was the first thing Mike MacNeill felt coursing through his veins. A plan he and his father had been working on for three years had come to fruition.
All the camps his dad paid for and took him, the sacrifices that made him a better football player were rewarded when the Salinas High defensive lineman signed up for Portland State.
“My dad and I have been planning this for so long with the camps, trying to get noticed,” MacNeill said. “From getting an NAIA offer to a division I ride shows how far I’ve come.”
The 6-foot-2, 282-pound MacNeill was a beast on the defensive side of the ball for the Gabilan Division champions last fall, who went undefeated in the regular season.
A disruptive force, the 17-year-old floated around the defensive front, lining up in multiple positions to take advantage of his talents and wreak havoc.
“Portland State’s plans on defense match their style of play,” Salinas coach Steve Zenk said. “It’s the right level for Mike. He will adapt perfectly to his work ethic and his determination.
MacNeil will be the first county player to play football for Portland State since former Seaside tight end Tony Curtis roamed the field in 2004, eventually spending three years with the Dallas Cowboys.
MacNeil, who earned Herald All-County honors in football last fall at Salinas, was weighing offers from a few other programs before Portland State entered the picture.
“I kept an open mind,” MacNeill said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was invited for a visit just before the signing period. I liked the atmosphere. I was welcomed by wonderful people. »
A selling point for MacNeill came when he attended a defensive line meeting, getting a feel for what the Vikings were up to and their plans for him.
“Coaches showed me how their system works,” MacNeil said. “There are 10 linemen who rotate indoors and outdoors. I felt like it suited me personally.
Because MacNeill never had a set position in his two seasons of dominance at Salinas, the thought of being able to move into a hybrid-type system put him in a comfort zone with his decision.
“The defensive coaches showed how I can move around, be inside as a tackle or go out and be on the edge to show my ability,” MacNeill said. “It was attractive to move around.”
Last year, MacNeill recorded nine sacks in just nine games while taking down opponents running his way, compiling more than 50 tackles.
“He has a great engine,” Zenk said. “You don’t have to worry about him pulling a game. He’s got great lateral movement for a 280-pounder. He has no negative bones in his body. We will miss him.
Prior to the visit, Portland State recruiters descended and visited MacNeill on campus and returned for a home visit with his parents.
When interest appeared mutual, Portland State took him for a visit, where MacNeill liked the campus and downtown Rose City vibe.
“We just started getting more familiar,” MacNeill said. “Portland State reached out to me and showed genuine interest in me. Honestly, it came out of nowhere.”
A member of the Big Sky Conference, the Vikings’ schedule next fall will include road games at San Jose State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as well as Pac-12 power Washington.
Last year, Portland State was 5-6 overall, 4-4 in conference.
MacNeill got a few practice sessions from Portland State’s speed coach. Talking to the players during his visit, the off-season program is moving towards explosive-type training.
“I’m now focused on my studies and getting back to the lab,” MacNeill said. “I have to get stronger, faster and more explosive. I want to erase all weaknesses and meet expectations.