"Today was my son's birthday, he turned one today. My family was what motivated me to keep going," stated Shawbrey McNeal after his performance on Saturday night. "I love the game, but their support and my teammates support is what keeps me going."
Shawnbrey McNeal's son will never remember his first birthday, his father will. A day after hearing from the NCAA that he was eligible for the 2009 season, McNeal showed his teammates, his coaches, and SMU fans how important he will be this season.
"I was just happy for him because he's been through so much," June Jones said after the game. "Shawnbrey showed why we were excited to have him. Hopefully once we get on track in the passing part of it, we'll have them both."
McNeal's 19 carries for 159 yards gave the Mustangs their first 150-yard rusher since 2005 and their first 100-yard rusher since 2007. SMU's leading rusher last season only recorded 190 yards, a number that McNeal should break this weekend against UAB. But, more importantly, SMU now has a legitimate closer in the second half.
"I'm glad that I'm not going against him," said linebacker Chase Kennemer. "It makes a teams honor the run a lot more. If you get him against just one guy in open space, he is going to make them miss. As a defense, he gets us excited because it gets the chains moving. I'm glad that he is on our side."
Now McNeal must shift his attention to a UAB Blazer defense that allowed 156 yards last week.
"I have to get it the last game out of my mind. UAB is going to respect the run a lot more than SFA did. They are going to spend just as much time focused on our rushing attack as our passing game," stated McNeal to PonyStampede.com.