LAWRENCE (KSNT)- Devin Neal is making his name known on the football field in Lawrence. He’s also a part of a sensational program turnaround with KU football. If that isn’t special enough… it’s all happening right in his home town.

The sophomore running back and Lawrence High School grad sat down with 27 Sports Director Glenn Kinley to talk about his football journey.

Many people questioned his decision when he committed to KU, he said.

“I heard it all,” Neal said. “A lot of people calling me dumb. A lot of people questioning why I would ‘Waste my career.'”

Anyone who questioned his decision likely didn’t him very well, he said.

“I’m all about the challenge,” Neal said. “In high school we did something similar. I found it as a challenge to me. I wanted to buy in to this program, do everything I could to be able to lead and play.”

Needless to say, Neal’s happy with his decision. The Jayhawks are bowl-bound for the first time since 2008.

“To see it happen, and happen so early in my career, it just means everything,” Neal said. “…To be doing it for my hometown school makes it much more sweet. I just love my decision of staying here and my decision to give it my all no matter what.”

He’s enjoying the ride, too.

“I love it,” Neal said. “I love everything it’s taught me beyond a football standpoint.”

Head coach Lance Leipold and offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki have both had a big impact on his career, including building the team’s morale.

“I think we’re really confident in what we’re doing, and how we’re doing it, too,” Neal said.

KU plays Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee, on Wednesday, Dec. 28.