MIAMI — Following their SEC Championship win, former Brahman and Okeechobee native Evan Neal helped the Alabama Crimson Tide secure a National Championship with a 52-24 win Ohio State on Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
After the game, Neal called the win a childhood dream fulfilled.
At the beginning of this sophomore season at Alabama, Evan made the move on the Crimson Tide’s offensive line from guard to tackle, a move he said he felt comfortable with.
“So far the transition has been treating me well,” said Neal. “In high school, tackle was my natural position, so it made the transition go much smoother for me. I have more work than needs to be done. I can get better. But overall I’ve been pleased with my performance so far.”
Neal’s performance at right tackle includes helping anchor the right side of the Alabama offensive line that blocks for the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense. That Alabama front has surrendered just six sacks while quarterback Mac Jones has been on the field.
Evan and his fellow offensive linemen won the Joe Moore Award for the 2020 season. The award is presented ever year by The Foundation for Teamwork to the top collegiate offensive line in the nation. Also nominated this year were the offensive lines for Notre Dame and Texas A&M.
Neal played his freshman year for the Okeechobee Brahmans before transferring to IMG Academy in Bradenton in his sophomore year. Although it wasn’t an easy decision for Neal to leave his hometown and high school football team, ultimately IMG offered the best chance at being chosen by a Division I college. Former Okeechobee head coach Chris Branham supported Neal’s decision, which has paid off as Neal now finds himself playing for one of the premier college football programs in the country.
Even though he had spent more time playing for IMG than the Brahmans, Neal still decided to announce his decision in his hometown of Okeechobee.
Neal has been supportive of his hometown throughout his time at IMG. When the 8U little league All-Stars team from Okeechobee made the World Series in 2018, Neal declared his support and pride in the kids on his social media.
“Okeechobee is important to me because this is where I came up,” said Neal in an interview with Lake Okeechobee News. “I want to see everyone in Okeechobee succeed. From the kids to the adults, I just want to see everyone prosper in my hometown.”
“I want to show kids here in Okeechobee that they can do the same thing I’m doing,” continued Neal. “It’s not impossible. I remember growing up here and watching college football and wondering if I would be able to do that one day. I just want to be a testament to the kids here that you can do it.”