Clearly one of the most exciting players in college football, he makes big plays seem commonplace...has good speed and quickness, but his knack for making the right reads and avoiding would-be tacklers is what truly separates him from most college players...might be the best return specialist in college football, ranking in the top 25 nationally in both kickoff and punt returns last year ... rated the No. 8 all-purpose player in the nation by Lindy's magazine, while he's ranked as the No. 9 kick returner in college football by The Sporting News...also played briefly on offense, where he started his college career, and provided several big plays...enters his senior year with 3,741 all-purpose yards, the fourth-most in Cal history...has now managed a punt return, reception or run for 20 or more yards in 11 of his last 12 games...currently ranks fifth in Cal history in punt returns, averaging 10.9 on 68 returns (741 yards) and is fourth in kickoff returns with a 24.0 average on 80 returns (1917 yards, which is the most in Cal history)...played tailback his first two seasons at Cal (along with his return duties) and averaged 4.9 yards on 138 carries (680 yards) during the '96 and '97 seasons, including a 72-yard TD run as a soph...moved to cornerback in the spring of '98 and has made tremendous strides learning coverage techniques ... has shown enough progress that he is slated to be a fulltime defensive starter this fall.
1998: had a huge impact in so many different areas, ranking nationally in punt returns and KO returns, pulling down a pair of interceptions on defense and averaging 10.4 yards on five receptions along with a pair of rushes on offense ... threw completed one pass for a touchdown (a 20-yarder at USC)...recorded five kickoff returns over 40 yards and seven punt returns over 20 yards last year...ended the season with 32 tackles (23 unassisted) and three pass deflections...finished the year ranked No. 7 in the nation in kickoff returns with a 28.4 yards per return average...that ranks as the fourth-best mark in Cal history...had several big returns, including a 57-yarder at USC and 49-yarders vs. Nebraska and Washington State...also finished 21st nationally in punt returns with an 11.8 average...that mark ranks as the third-best in school history...was Cal's lone threat in the season-finale against Stanford as he returned a punt 57 yards to the Cardinal 31-yard-line with 2:55 left in the game and Cal down by a touchdown (although Cal's offense failed to score)...was one of three players in the playing rotation at the cornerback spot, starting the Washington and Oregon State games and playing in all 11 contests...had a pair of interceptions, the first coming against Nebraska and the second coming vs. Washington State...his pick vs. WSU was a critical one, as it not only stopped a potential Cougar scoring drive, but gave Cal a 10-point lead when he returned it 76 yards for a TD...had a 31-yard reception in the opening series vs. UCLA, one of five catches on the year in limited offensive duty...earned Pac-10 honorable mention honors.
1997: finished the year as Cal's fourth-leading rusher with 172 yards on 36 carries (4.8 average, 1 TD)...also ranked fourth on the team in receiving with 18 catches for 223 yards (1 TD)...played cornerback very briefly in the final two games of the year at Arizona and at Stanford...excelled as a kick returner, ranking among the Pac-10 leaders in three special teams categories: fifth in punt return average (10.2 ypr), eighth in kickoff return average (21.5 ypr) and 10th in all-purpose yards (117.9 ypg)...had 289 all-purpose yards in the Louisiana Tech game, including 108 yards rushing (12 carries), 67 yards receiving (four catches), 96 yards on kickoffs (four returns) and 18 yards on punts (1 return)...also had a career-long 66-yard TD run against the Bulldogs on Cal's second offensive play...his 56-yard punt return, the fifth-longest in the Pac-10 in 1997, came in the second quarter at Stanford...averaged 29.5 yards on four kickoff returns, including a 53-yarder, against Oklahoma...his 1,297 all-purpose yards for the year ranks sixth on Cal's single-season list...also had more than 150 all-purpose yards against Oklahoma (185), Washington State (199) and Stanford (191).
1996: coaches expected him to contribute primarily as a return specialist in his first year, but a knee injury to starter Tarik Smith thrust him into the tailback playing rotation sooner than anticipated...started the final two games of the season...proved to be very productive, finishing the regular-season with a 5.2 yard average (80 carries, 418 yards)...led Cal in kickoff returns, ending the season eighth in the Pac-10 with a 21.0 average (22 returns for 461 yards)...average would have gone to 23.1 ypr when including the 100-yard return for a TD against Navy on the opening kickoff of the 1996 Aloha Bowl...also took over Cal's punt return duties in mid-season when Na'il Benjamin was slowed with an ankle injury and finished with five returns for 38 yards, including a 17-yarder...ended the year ranked No. 9 in the Pac-10 in all-purpose yards, averaging 87.4 yards a game...had a 9-yard gain on his first collegiate run in game No. 3 vs. Nevada...played a major role in Cal's win over Oregon State with 11 carries for 54 yards, including a 27-yard run...had a total of 118 all-purpose yards at USC (37 rushing, 11 receiving, 19 punt returns and 51 kickoff returns)...his final kickoff return in the USC game proved to be crucial as he got out of a jam of players at Cal's 15 and broke it outside for a 32-yard return to the Cal 35 with six minutes left in the game and the Bears protecting a touchdown lead...had what was then a career-best 39-yard kickoff return at Washington State...had kickoff returns of 37 and 32 yards to go along with a 13-yard run vs. UCLA...had 95 yards on just 15 carries vs. Arizona, including a 33-yard run...also scored on a 34-yard screen pass against the Wildcats...had a run of more than 10 yards in eight of Cal's last nine games...best game was a career-best 126 yards on just 14 carries at Oregon...had a 31-yard run against Navy in the Aloha Bowl.
High School/Personal: Originally signed with Cal after a brilliant prep career at Milpitas HS in February of 1995, but sat out the '95 season while working on academics...rushed for 1,301 yards as a senior, despite a late-season ankle injury which caused him to miss a pair of games...had 14 rushing touchdowns and one receiving TD in '94...had a school-record 275 yards and three TDs (from 95, 7 and 29 yards out) on 22 carries in one game as a senior...also was a dangerous return man, with four TDs returning punts and kickoffs...was a standout defensive back with 60 tackles and six interceptions (one he returned for a TD) and some schools recruited him as a DB...earned BlueChip Illustrated All-America honors as the No. 10 ranked DB in the West...was a second team all-state selection as a multi-purpose player by Student Sports magazine...still holds Milpitas HS record for most career rushing yards with 2,312 yards...recruited by Nebraska, Washington, Oregon and Arizona before choosing Cal...served as his school's student body president as a senior...full name is Deltha Lee O'Neal III and nickname is "Tre"...father is Deltha O'Neal II and mother is Sheryl Jessie...born Jan. 30, 1977 in Stanford, CA.
O'Neal's Career Statistics
Rushing Year Att Yds Avg TD LG 1996* 102 508 5.0 1 33 1997 36 172 4.8 1 66 1998 2 8 4.0 0 5 Totals 140 688 4.9 2 66
The Deltha O'Neal File
Deltha O'Neal's Game-by-Game All-Purpose Yards
Date Opponent Rush Rec KOR PR IR Total 1996 9/21 Nevada 15 0 0 0 0 15 9/28 Oregon State 54 0 45 17 0 116 10/5 at USC 37 11 51 19 0 118 10/19 at Washington State 17 0 54 2 0 73 10/26 UCLA 19 0 117 0 0 136 11/2 Arizona 95 25 101 0 0 221 11/9 at Arizona State 23 0 0 0 0 23 11/16 at Oregon 126 8 9 0 0 143 11/23 Stanford 32 0 84 0 0 116 12/25 Navy 72 16 186 0 0 280 Totals 496 60 647 38 0 1241