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So far, he doesn't regret skipping out on what would have been his final semester of high school.
"All of my friends, basically, are back [at] home, still in high school. They talk about the times they've had," McNeal said during his first media encounter since arriving to Clemson. "There's a time when you had to focus on your future, instead of the past. I think it was a good choice for me."
Three months after enrolling at Clemson, McNeal's in the middle of a race with fellow freshman Cole Stoudt for the Tigers' backup quarterback job. On Monday, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Stoudt has the leg up.
When he committed to Clemson in January of 2010, McNeal understood that the 2011 signing class would have at least one more quarterback.
"We have to compete," he said. "Whoever is the best quarterback will be the one to represent the team as the backup quarterback behind Tajh [Boyd]."
McNeal added that he and Stoudt have worked with one another over the last few months, not against.
"We look at stuff with each other, but you always have it in the back of your head that it's a competition, but we help each other out on things that we need help with," McNeal said.
Offensive coordinator Chad Morris said McNeal has lived up to the expectations he had before spring practice started.
"Tony is a guy [who] is really level all the way across. He's never too high and he's never too low," Morris said. "I like that about him. You don't see him rattled too much."
When asked to compare the two freshmen quarterbacks, Morris said McNeal has the quicker release.
This spring, McNeal's had to break some of the habits he developed last fall, which were a result of an ACL tear from his junior season. On top recovering from his surgery while playing out his senior season, he suffered an ankle injury.
"After my surgery, it was kind of tough learning to do everything, basically over again, and getting the movement back in my knee," McNeal said. "I had to work on everything all over again. I had some bad habits that I had to continue to practice on and get better with."
This summer, McNeal wants to improve two aspects of his game: being more vocal in the huddle and better footwork.
As far as grasping the offense, he's very comfortable.
"My high school was basically in the spread offense 95 percent of the time," McNeal said. "I like to take shots down field, and so does coach Morris. We plan on taking shots. I just like the tempo of the offense and that it keeps pressure on the other team's defense."