April 14, 2024

Sources: Kansas star Devin Neal returns in 2024

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Kansas Star jam Devin Neal has informed the Jayhawks’ coaching staff that he will return for the 2024 season, sources told ESPN.

Neal was named second-team All-Big 12 this season after rushing for 1,209 yards and scoring 16 touchdowns. As a true junior, Neal had thought about going to the NFL.

Neal’s return for his senior season will give Kansas a distinct offensive identity through 2024 The school is also bringing back its star quarterback Jalon Daniels. The Jayhawks plan to return eight of 11 starters on offense, including all three wide receivers, and will feature some of the Big 12’s most well-known talent in 2024.

Neal has recorded back-to-back seasons of 1,000-plus yards, and his 6.6 yards per carry in 2023 led all Big 12 rushers with more than 100 carries. He also caught 24 balls for 214 yards and will enter 2024 as one of the most productive tailbacks in the sport.

Neal is a Lawrence native who was instrumental in putting Kansas back in the national conversation as he was a linchpin in all three of coach Lance Leipold’s seasons.

“His being the local guy is a sign of his loyalty to the community,” a Kansas source said. “When he signed, his mission was to put Kansas football on the map, and this is another part of that.”

The Jayhawks were ranked 19th each of the last two seasons and reached back-to-back bowl games for the first time in over a decade.

A 49-36 win above UNLV Tuesday night’s Guaranteed Rate Bowl gave Kansas (9-4) its most wins since 2007, when the Jayhawks went 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl. Neal added 71 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown and a 3-yard reception in Tuesday night’s win.

During his three seasons at Lawrence, Neal rushed for 3,077 yards and scored 33 rushing touchdowns. He ranks fourth on Kansas’ all-time rushing yards list and third in rushing touchdowns.

With another productive season, Neal plans to eclipse June Henley as the program’s most decorated stevedore. Henley’s 3,841 yards and 41 touchdowns are No. 1 in school history.

Neal eclipsed 100 yards receiving six times in 2023, including 154 receiving yards UCF and 138 yards and three touchdowns against Kansas State.

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