Throughout his career at Tech, in the early 1970s, head coach Maxie Lambright and defensive coordinator Pat Collins lauded him as "the toughest guy they'd ever seen." It was that toughness that made the 5-9 195 pound McNeely an all-American. He piled up 400 tackles as linebacker and as a senior in 1973, he made 144 stops, an average of 13 tackles per game. Twice, he was named to the all-Southland Conference team and in 1973 was named the league's most valuable player. Both his junior and senior seasons, Tech led the SLC in total defense. During his career, the Bulldogs were 35-11 and won two national championships.