"He was taken over there by these other guys," Hand said. "Somebody else was driving. He didn't know what was going to happen and when the other guys went into the trailer and he went in to get them out, it all went bad from there as far as leaving, and (there was) a set of facts that were difficult to prove otherwise."
McNeil, who wore a gray suit and a short haircut after appearing in court Friday with dreadlocks, nodded to family members while he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. Prosecutors agreed not to pursue other charges against McNeil, who was initially charged with five counts of first-degree robbery.
The plea also requires him to "testify truthfully" against other defendants in the case if called as a witness. If convicted, McNeil could have served at least 20 years.
Lee County District Attorney Robbie Treese declined to comment, citing the pending cases.
McNeil was a starting safety who had 14 tackles in Auburn's win over Oregon in the BCS championship game in January 2011.
Hand said he and McNeil met for "hours" Sunday with retired federal judge U.W. Clemon, who agreed that the player should accept the plea. McNeil visited with his young daughter after that.
"He went to see her last night, spent some time with her and told her he'd see her in 3 years," Hand said.
McNeil made headlines last week when he raised allegations that a failing grade was changed before the 2010 season and that he received about $400 from then-assistant coach Will Muschamp after a practice. Muschamp, now Florida's head coach, has denied making the payment through a spokesman.
Auburn officials have said McNeil's grade was changed because absences that affected his grade were medically excused.