"It feels real good to be back having fun, doing what I love to do to, playing football," Neal said after practice yesterday with a large smile on his face.
The senior cornerback was shot outside of his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana this summer. Originally there were some concerns of if he'd be limited or not because of the injury, but any lingering of that notion was swept under the rug with UCF's first practice on Monday.
"It's normal… I got no restrictions."
During practice Neal did more than just show up, he dominate at times, something UCF coaches and players have come to expect from the three-year letterman. Neal made the routine plays as usual, breaking up several passes, and despite showing some signs he is not at a 100%, he refused to make excuses.
When asked about his whole situation and what he has gone through he replied, "It's a miracle," and then talked about the support he has felt from his fellow teammates throughout the process.
"They all [Joe Burnett, Jason Venson, and Sha'reff Rashad] told me it wouldn't be the same out there without me."
Neal is not the only one that believes his comeback is a miracle. When asked about his teammates comeback, cornerback Joe Burnett stated, "It's a blessing, to have him back on the field playing with us. It's a blessing, it's unbelievable."
Neal reciprocates the enjoyment of again lining up on the opposite side of the field with Burnett.
"It feels good being back there with Joe."
As the Knights look to repeat as conference champs they will turn to their leaders to help them along the way, and it is very evident after the first day of practice that Neal will be one of the leaders. He lets his play do his talking for him, as do most of this championship UCF
John Bernstein is a writer for InsideKnights.com, covering the UCF Knights for Scout.com. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
For more, go to: InsideKnights.com
Johnell Neal's Return
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