Curtis McNeal has gone from being an LAUSD kid to being in the NFL. McNeal went undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft, but signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers shortly after the annual spectactle ended in New York City, as reported by Steelers Depot.
McNeal wasn’t projected as a running back that would be drafted, mostly due to his size and struggles with injuries. The 5-foot-7, 190 pound back got off to a slow start at USC with just 33 rushing yards to his name before his junior season, but he finished career with enough of a resume for NFL scouts to take a chance on him.
McNeal forfeited the 2010 season due to academic ineligibility, but bounced back wholeheartedly as a junior in 2011, leading USC in rushing with 1,005 rushing yards on just 145 carries. Going into 2012, McNeal was expected to be the Trojans’ starting running back for the whole season, but Lane Kiffin brought in Penn State transfer Silas Redd last July, and the former Nittany Lion got a bulk of the carries and started early.
Redd and McNeal both had injury trouble last season, alternating their missed time, as McNeal was able to thrive late in the season in lieu of Redd’s ankle injury. In a two-week stretch in November against Arizona State and UCLA as the featured back, McNeal had 324 yards on 52 carries.
The two games were far and away McNeal’s best, though a shoulder injury cost him against Notre Dame. In the Sun Bowl, he had just three carries, which allegedly led him to be one of the most vocally frustrated players in a non-physical locker room fracas.
The former Venice Gondolier brings a low point of gravity to the NFL, along with a shiftiness that made him one of the most elusive backs in the Pac-12 of late. With the NFL not valuing running backs as draftable commodities like they used to, going undrafted isn’t necessarily a knock on McNeal, and if he can impress in a camp or two, he could very well find himself getting carries on Sundays.