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Sunday, November 14, 2021

Shocking KU football win at Texas meant ‘the world’ to RB Devin Neal

Kansas running back Devin Neal (4) runs through the tackle of Texas defensive back Brenden Schooler (14) for a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Kansas running back Devin Neal (4) runs through the tackle of Texas defensive back Brenden Schooler (14) for a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

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On a Kansas football team exhilarated by the Jayhawks’ 57-56 overtime victory at Texas, running back Devin Neal couldn’t help but feel overcharged emotionally by the result as he contemplated what happened late Saturday night.

It wasn’t his individual contributions to the victory — 169 total yards and four touchdowns, including one in OT — that had Neal in his feelings, either. The 18-year old true freshman grew up in Lawrence, and followed the Jayhawks closely long before he became one of their most important players.

“It means the world to me. I watched the ups and downs of this program since (I was) a little kid. I dreamed of this moment, playing here, coming to this crazy environment,” Neal told reporters after he helped KU win its first Big 12 road game since 2008, when Neal was just 5.

“I have nothing but respect for Texas, and, you know, to put that performance together from all aspects of the game, special teams, offense, defense, it was truly special to be a part of it,” added Neal.

As the postgame party spilled into KU’s visiting locker room and the Jayhawks got out their phones to document the monumental win, Neal said he initially went on Instagram to share the moment on social media.

But then he had another thought.

“I’ve got to call my mom,” Neal related.

When Neal got his mother, Freda McPhail, dialed up via FaceTime, she and other family members and friends were at Johnny’s Tavern.

“Just seeing how much support that we have back home, the excitement we brought to their faces it just meant the world to me,” Neal said.

The tight bond the young back has with his family, Neal said, is one of “the core reasons” he stayed in his hometown to play for KU after starring at Lawrence High.

“I had offers to Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Iowa, K-State, schools like that, but I knew where home was for me,” Neal said. “And this is the moment why I came here, because I knew we're going to turn the tide, we’re going to change this program.”

Neal said his belief in KU football was such that he didn’t need the attention-grabbing win at Texas as proof that it could change for the better. But he figured the victory, late in Lance Leipold’s first season as head coach, was a sign to many who follow college football.

After establishing new career highs with 143 rushing yards, 26 receiving yards and four TDs, Neal said it felt “crazy” to him that he was able to help the Jayhawks (2-8 overall, 1-6 Big 12) in what they consider to be an important moment for the program’s future.

“Just growing up, I never really viewed myself in this position ever,” Neal said. “I love sports, but I never knew my own potential — where I was going to be one day. And to see it all come full circle, I thank no one but God and my family. Just the amount of work that I put in to get to this point and the amount of work that we put in together from the offseason to fall camp, with all the adversity we faced, it just means the entire world. To put a performance like that, I couldn't be anything but more emotional about it.”

The Jayhawks will be right back in the Lone Star State next week for a road game at TCU (4-6, 2-5).

None by Devin Neal💨

Comments

Spencer Goff 10 months, 2 weeks ago

What happened? I blacked out and have not regained memory yet?

Doug Roberts 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Popular/unpopular opinion: I don't like the angry Jayhawk on the helmets. Looks like a mad toucan. Rock Chalk Frootloops.

Dale Rogers 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I like the angry Jayhawk. I also like this, that I copied from somewhere.

Brian Skelly 10 months, 2 weeks ago

So happy for these guys. Hopefully W's become more common place in Lawrence for the football program. It does feel like Coach Leipold is the man for the job.

Dirk Medema 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I’m not seeing the Jayhawk as angry as much as determined, fierce and competitive. Seems more appropriate than a happy smiling Jayhawk for sports, and especially a game as violent as football.

Still reveling. Not quite as much as ‘08 when I had the NC recorded and watched it over and over again til dawn. Still found myself thinking about it and smiling.

Andy Godwin 10 months, 2 weeks ago

As someone born and raised in Lawrence, I greatly appreciate Lawrence natives feeling the pride where they came from and willing to stay local and make an impact at KU and in the Lawrence community. Hopefully the players can build on this win. Rock Chalk.

Edward Daub 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Think Globally, Recruit Locally! Rock Chalk!

Doug Roberts 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Just to be clear, I like the idea of the angry or determined Jayhawk. Just not this one. It looks like somebody's kid drew it. And on the helmets without the rest of the Jayhawk body it looks even worse. I'd love to see what an art major could do to improve it.

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