Tuscon Sugar Skulls quarterback Daquan Neal, has gone public with his USFL contract offer. According to Neal, he has signed with the New Jersey Generals for the 2023 season. This makes for one incredibly enticing situation at quarterback in New Jersey.
Can Neal Succeed Where Ben Holmes Failed?
Last season selected 4th overall was quarterback Ben Holmes. Holmes had spent the last season plus in the Indoor Football League. Holmes never even suited up in a single game for the Generals who selected him. A foot injury derailed his USFL career before it began. With no injured list, the Generals were forced to cut Holmes to save a roster spot.
They chose to release Holmes, and sign Luis Perez. This in turn led Holmes to the CFL. He has bounced around the CFL signing contracts, and being released by three different teams this season. The question with Holmes has been work ethic, and dedication to his craft. Two questions you will never have to ask about Neal.
Despite the lack of success that Holmes had, the USFL must use the talent pools at their finger tips. Currently the IFL offers one of the largest, and more experienced groups of players to look at with 14 teams and two more on their way this should only increase over time.
USFL Taps Neal
Daquan Neal is just two seasons removed from winning the most valuable player award as a rookie. The first time this ever happened in the IFL in its young life. Neal on the other hand was always destined for great things. He would go on to capture a second award by the time his USFL contract came around.
The ironic part of the interest that Neil is receiving at this point, is it comes after a late season benching by former head coach Dixie Wooten. Wooten, a spring football alum himself, lured Neal to the IFL. Now he helps him to the next level.
Meanwhile Wooten, after a loss in the playoffs was handed his walking papers. Perhaps Wooten becomes an intriguing candidate for the Generals coaching staff. Only time will tell where these two men land and if they are able to reunite once again.
More Than A Game Manager
Neal played in 16 games this season. In those 16 starts he managed a 61.7% completion rate, 2,342 yards, 50 tds and 9 ints. He added 88 carries for 297 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground, and even caught a pass for 6 yards.
Mobility In High Demand
After watching a full season of USFL football, it became very apparent the more mobile quarterbacks were the ones more likely to find success. We saw the Birmingham Stallions, New Jersey Generals, Philadelphia stars, Houston gamblers, Michigan panthers, Pittsburgh maulers, and Tampa Bay Bandits turn to guys highly regarded for their ability to escape the pocket. Even Kyle Sloter can run the ball when called upon albeit he isn’t the same threat as a runner as guys like Kenji Bahar or J’Mar Smith who were asked to step in mid-season.
Neal has put his athleticism on display in the Indoor Football League. Last season with the Iowa Barnstormers he ran 101 times for 611 yards and 16 touchdowns. In 2019 as a rookie it was, 649 yards and 24 touchdowns. Putting his three year totals at 1,557 yards and an astounding 57 rushing touchdowns.
Let’s Talk About his Rookie Season
As a rookie Neal deservedly won his first IFL MVP award. He had an incredible season completing 71% of his passes good for third best in IFL history. He threw 59 touchdowns and just three interceptions that season. Finishing the year accounting for 83 total touchdowns on the year. Neal stands 6’2 215 lbs and is a bit smaller than J’Mar Smith but also arguably more experienced in the field.
Could Neal be a break out candidate in 2023? Mike Riley and company certainly seem to think so after offering him the first ever USFL contract. Hopefully for their sake this doesn’t spur the interest of the XFL or the NFL. The NFL is aware of Neal after a work out with the Colts this season. It could be a case of needing to see outdoor film. One season in the USFL could be all Neal needs to end up in the NFL.
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