July 25, 2008
ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Cornerback Johnell Neal is a part of an experienced secondary containing four seniors who will guide the UCF football team this year. Last year, Neal returned six interceptions for 159 yards to lead the Knights. One of his greatest contributions came at SMU, where he returned an interception 72 yards for a touchdown in the victory over the Mustangs. The senior recently spent some time with the UCF athletics communications staff to talk about his responsibilities on the team and the upcoming season.
During the summer, what are the key components to your typical day?
"Right now, I am getting up early and getting a good breakfast so I am ready for a long day of work. I like bacon, eggs and waffles. Then, I go into the training room to get stretched and receive any treatment that needs to be done. Be there early [for practice]. Warm up early before the rest of the team gets there. This enables for me to be looser. I come in and work hard from 1-3:15 with weights and running. Then, we will have a little cool down period before five, when we go out for skelly. We work hard to keep the defense up."
The senior secondary has played together over the last three years. What does that do for camaraderie between the players?
"It feels good being out there with the guys again for another year. This is our last year that we are going out there. We know that most of the weight is on our backs to keep the defense going. It feels good being out there with guys that you have played with a lot. You know what each other is going to do on the field."
Are there any phrases that the seniors have been rallying around?
"Back to back. That is what we are working for. Every day when we break down we say back to back. We really feel that we can go out there and compete for the conference championship."
You graduated this spring. How did it feel to go up and receive your degree?
What classes are you currently taking?
"It felt good. My mother, grandmother and aunt came down to watch me graduate. It felt really good. I was the first person on her (mother's) side of the family to graduate from college. It was a big feat for me."
"I am taking classes in sports and fitness for another degree. I will see how it goes after this season."
Neal and the Knights are slated to open the 2008 campaign on Aug. 30, hosting South Carolina State. UCF will play six home contests at Bright House Networks Stadium.
Season tickets for UCF's 2008 campaign at Bright House Networks Stadium are currently available by calling the UCF athletics ticket office at 407-UCF-1000.
For the latest news on the Knights, log on to www.UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit www.UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.