Maryland football recruiting: Exclusive interview with Raiqwon O’Neal

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images /

Receiving 28 offers from various power five schools including Maryland football, 2018 Conway High School (S.C.) football Offensive Tackle Raiqwon O’Neal talks with our own Anthony Brown on Maryland football recruiting.

Raiqwon O’Neal plays offensive tackle for the Conway High School Tigers but is being recruited by Maryland Football as a defensive lineman.

The 6-foot-5, 265-pound offensive tackle has the versatility to play both sides of the line of scrimmage. He has the speed to run block down the field and the quick feet and reaches with his long arms to stop a defensive end from reaching his quarterback in the passing game.

On the defensive side of the ball, he has the first step and hands to be effective at shedding blocks and then he lets his speed do the rest in chasing after the ball carrier.

O’Neal used basketball and track to improve his game on the football field:

"In basketball, it helps me stay in shape instead of staying around the house and doing nothing. Basketball helps work on my hip turn, my footwork, my agility etc. Track, it just helps m build up my speed and my conditioning for the spring and summer."

Along with Maryland football, his 28 offers include Michigan, Mississippi State, Louisville, South Carolina, NC State, Rutgers, Penn State, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and others. Virginia, Indiana, Penn State, South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Rutgers, Maryland, Illinois, and Michigan are schools that O’Neal said are recruiting him the hardest.

The Maryland football recruit plans to commit on August 16, two days before the Conway Tigers’ first game of the 2017 season against the Georgetown High School (S.C.) Bulldogs Friday, August 18.

Q&A with Raiqwon O’Neal

The Baltimore Wire: When did your love for football begin? In other words, when did you start playing and why?

O’Neal: I started playing football when I was seven. My mom just signed me up for it. She thought I’d like it. Pretty much, when I was little she signed me up for any sport and I found a love for it.

The Baltimore Wire: What motivates you to play the game?

O’Neal: I think about my family and how my mom, she raised me and my big sister being a single mother. She pushed every day and she would coming [sic] hurting and stuff but still be able to put food on the table for us.

The Baltimore Wire: Do you have any special interests or hobbies outside of football and if so what are they?

O’Neal: I like to draw, I like to clean and just pretty much I like to stay active [doing] anything. Hanging around with family, taking care of them, anything pretty much.

The Baltimore Wire: Do you have any academic interests that could serve as a backup plan or second career after football?

O’Neal: I just have backup plan after backup plan pretty much. You never what’s really going to happen so you can’t just have one backup plan to fall on. Say I don’t make it to the NFL, if that doesn’t work out, I’ll try the NBA, if that doesn’t work out, I’ll go to the Olympics and do shot put and discus. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll probably do graphic design.

The Baltimore Wire: As an offensive lineman, where do you feel you’re most effective? Run blocking, pass blocking or both?

O’Neal: I’d say I’m both. I’m quick enough to [set my feet] and quick enough to reach a defender like the defensive end. [Also], quick enough to get up to the linebacker on a power [running play]. I can come off the ball hard and get to the defensive end or defensive tackle. Pass blocking, I’m long and quick enough to get there and beat the defensive end.

The Baltimore Wire: When I looked at your junior highlight film, I was impressed with your speed and aggressiveness on each side of the ball since you play on both lines. What do you think is the best part of your game?

O’Neal: I’d say both because I could help out either way. Wherever the team needs help at.

The Baltimore Wire: What do you still have to work on to be a better lineman and overall football player?

O’Neal: Staying low getting my hands inside to strike the opponent first and lock out my arms and extend my arms because I have long arms and nobody should be able to reach me. [Also], stoning the defender at the point of contact.

The Baltimore Wire: Since you are a three sport athlete with also doing basketball and track and field, is playing multiple sports something you have considered at the next level?

O’Neal: I thought about it and I’ll talk to the coaches at where ever I commit. That’s when I’m going to bring it up and discuss it with them.

Next: Terps land Pennsylvania OLB Jordan Mosley

The Baltimore Wire: As a senior at Conway High School, what will you miss the most about playing there and what lasting impression do you want to leave?

O’Neal: I’ll miss mostly playing with the guys I grew up with. Since the fifth grade, we’ve been playing all the sports together. Last week, we won the NTBA National Championship game. That was my final AAU game and in high school, I’m going to miss playing with them because I won’t get a chance to play with them this basketball season or track season because I’m going to graduate early.