- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Durron Neal feels the burden. The freshman wideout knows a lot is expected from him during his career at Oklahoma.
And those expectations went to another level when the Sooners suspended receivers Jaz Reynolds and Trey Franks -- who futures with the team are up in the air -- in May. The need for Neal to make an immediate impact has heightened as all eyes will be on OU's receivers when fall camp opens in August.
Yet, Neal isn't fazed and his mental approach has remained the same. He wants to prove everyone who believed in him right and prove all of his doubters wrong.
"If I get thrown in the fire early, I'm going to make that one of the best decisions the coaches have ever made," said Neal, who spoke with SoonerNation before enrolling at OU in June. "I'm going in with the mentality I've had since I've been playing football. Do my job and help my team in any way possible. I have confidence in myself that I'm going to make plays for my team."
At 6-foot, 190 pounds with good speed and athleticism, Neal is overflowing with physical ability. But his confidence could be his biggest attribute.
"Confidence is something that got instilled in me right when I started playing football," Neal said. "Some people lack confidence [and] get nervous when the pressure is on but I feel like that's the time to be at your best; you want to prove people wrong."
These summer months are a critical time for Neal. His physical talent will mean nothing if he doesn't make a smooth transition into the demands of playing college football at Oklahoma. And he expects to lean on Kenny Stills and Trey Metoyer during this time.
"This is the time for me to pay attention, ask questions, not be the quiet person in the back, to get to know what I need to know as quick as possible," Neal said. "I feel like people are scared to ask questions because they don't want to feel like they don't know something. Asking questions is the best thing for you, you don't want to go out there and not know what to do."
With Stills looking to mature into a leader, Neal expects to count on the junior to help prepare him to make an immediate impact.
"Kenny has been in the offense for three years, nobody knows the offense as well as Kenny," Neal said.
Everything Neal has done since he signed with OU has been with his eyes on being a playmaker and key performer in the Sooners offense as a freshman.
"I've been working hard all four years (of high school) for an opportunity like this," Neal said. "It's here now, so it's my time to work 10 times harder to prove that was a good decision that was made."
While other Division I signees chose to play it safe and ensure healthiness this spring, Neal decided to run track in an effort to improve his speed. It is a strong sign that the young receiver is willing to put in the work to become an impact player.
"You just want to outwork the next man," Neal said. "The coaches are expecting big things from me so I don't want to let them down."
Challenging himself is nothing new for Neal. In fact, he chases the opportunity to face new challenges.
"I want the best, that's why I went to Oklahoma," said Neal who spurned offers from Missouri, USC, Ohio State, Alabama and others to sign with the Sooners. "I'm not going to shy away from the best. I want to go against the best of the best."
And he expects to succeed, because he will settle for nothing less.
"Be looking out, I'm going to make an impact in some kind of way," Neal said. "I'm not saying I'm going to have a Sammy Watkins-type of year but I'm going to make my impact. I'll work my butt off and it's going to pay off."
3hAdam Rubin and Kieran Darcy