Alim McNeill is latest Wolfpack d-lineman on college football's freak list
It’s becoming routine for a NC State Wolfpack football defensive lineman to find himself on Bruce Feldman of The Athletic's annual list of college football’s top athletic freaks.
This year, it is junior defensive tackle Alim McNeill, who checks in at No. 32 nationally. Feldman noted that McNeill’s most freakish attribute is “explosive strength.” McNeill makes it four years in a row a Pack defensive lineman was on the list.
Feldman also took notice of how strength and conditioning coordinator Dantonio “Thunder” Burnette and the defensive coaches have a habit of making smart evaluations and then molding them into great athletes, with the 6-foot-2 McNeill being the latest example.
“Meet the next one, a powerhouse 326-pound former four-star recruit who had 28 tackles, 7.5 TFLs and 5.5 sacks last year,” Feldman wrote. “McNeill, despite his massive size, vertical jumped 32 inches. Don’t be surprised if the junior runs in the 4.9s by the time he’s ready for the NFL Combine. He also benches 445 pounds and squats 640.”
For some comparison, the top defensive tackle drafted in April was Auburn’s Derrick Brown by the Carolina Panthers with the seventh overall pick. The 6-foot-4, 318-pound Brown posted a 40-yard dash time of 5.16 seconds at the NFL Combine. He also did 28 bench press reps, and he leaped 27.0 inches on the vertical and 108 on the broad jump.
For the past two years, former NC State defensive end James Smith-Williams was on the Freaks List. He was No. 27 in 2018 and then vaulted to No. 3 prior to last season. Smith-Williams justified that billing at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in the spring.
There, Smith-Williams’ 40-yard dash time of 4.60 seconds at nearly 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds was the fastest of all defensive linemen in attendance. He was also 10th in the vertical at his position (32.0 inches) and tied for fourth in broad jump (123.0 inches). Smith-Williams tied for seventh among D-linemen with 28 bench press reps.
In the preseason prior to the 2017 campaign, former Wolfpack defensive end Kentavius Street represented NC State on Feldman’s list. Street was No. 3 on the list in 2017 after being electronically timed by Burnette's staff with 40-yard dashes of 4.58 and 4.62 seconds and possessing a 40-inch vertical leap while bench pressing 475 pounds.
Street also went viral with his 700-pound squat:
Both Street (fourth round by the San Francisco 49ers in 2018) and Smith-Williams (seventh round by Washington in 2020) are now in the NFL, where McNeill hopes to join them soon.