On signing day we lamented the number of linebackers in the 2016 class. Tre Threat was the only true linebacker brought in. Today Auburn added an experienced player to the roster in graduate transfer T.J. Neal.
Graduate transfers seem to be all the rage these days. In the past a player would just enroll in graduate school to finish out their final semester at their original school. Lately players have been leaving those schools and transferring to another school for their final year of eligibility. Russell Wilson did this to go from N.C. State to Wisconsin. Blake Countess transferred from Michigan to Auburn last year. Gimel President recently left Auburn to finish out his career elsewhere.
It's very similar to signing a JUCO prospect in that you're only going to bring in a player who you expect to start or at least compete for very serious playing time. T.J. Neal definitely fits that bill for Auburn.
Neal finished the 2015 campaign with 109 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. That's more than all the tackles for loss by linebackers not named Cassanova McKinzy combined for Auburn last season. McKinzy had 10 tackles for loss, but he also played on the edge a good bit.
His 2014 season saw 97 tackles with 6.5 for loss. He obviously improved (even while the Illini as a while regressed) from 2014 to 2015. He's a talented player who will likely start for Auburn at linebacker in 2016. I'd be absolutely floored if he doesn't.
To read more on why he chose Auburn, AuburnUndercover has an interview with him.
Here's a small feature on him from 2014. You'll have to sit through some commentary and a very hoarse coach talking about him in it.
If you want to go way back, here are some high school highlights.