A Seasoned Viking
Neal a proven leader on young ECSU team
Senior QB is key leader on Vikings’ offense
By Craig Moyer
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Elizabeth City State quarterback Daquan Neal has used his experience to help him improve both as a player and as a leader on a young Vikings’ team this season.
Neal is one of just 14 seniors on this season’s Elizabeth City State team, including one of four seniors on offense and is the only senior on offense to play in all six games this season.
Being the most experienced player on offense, Neal has become a leader for younger players and said he tries to bring them up and have them do their best every week.
“I try not to get on them because they are young and still learning,” Neal said. “I made a lot of mistakes too when I was younger and less experienced.”
One of the biggest impacts of a young offense is an inexperienced offensive line, which has led to pressure on Neal throughout the season, forcing 21 sacks and eight interceptions.
This season the starts on the offensive front have been shared by four juniors, one sophomore and one freshman.
As a third-year starter, Neal has plenty of game experience, something he knows is very helpful and will help his teammates as they move forward.
“I have learned new things every year with in-game experience,” Neal said. “Experience is one thing you can’t teach.”
ECSU head coach Earnest Wilson, who is in his second year coaching Neal and the Vikings, said he has seen vast improvements in Neal’s game from last season to this season.
“He has really picked it up this year and is definitely a lot more focused,” Wilson said.
Neal has proven himself this season as one of the top quarterbacks in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
The senior is second in the conference with 119 completions, 1,444 yards and 240.7 yards per game behind Bowie State’s Amir Hall.
Neal has thrown for 10 touchdown passes as well as rushing for three scores, as he has accounted for 13 of the team’s 17 touchdowns this season.
Wilson said 10 of his starters on offense have been a walk-on at one point in their career and said it is impressive what Neal has been able to do offensively this season.
The third-year starter has helped lead the Vikings to a 3-3 record this season, including a 1-2 record in CIAA games.
“He has really done a good job picking those guys up and it is a miracle we have as many victories as we do,” Wilson said.
Neal has improved in each of his three seasons as a starter and is on pace to set his season-highs in passing yards, passing touchdowns and passing yardage this season.
With just four regular season games remaining in Neal’s collegiate career, the math major spoke with The Daily Advance about his plans after graduation.
“I plan to continue working hard after the season and try out for the NFL,” Neal said. “I will take any opportunity I can get.”
Neal went on to say if a career in football does not work out, he hopes to use his math major to begin a career as a sports statistician.
Wilson said Neal is not only a great football player and leader, but also a great student, saying he has seen him work really hard in school and achieve great grades.
The Vikings will look to end a two-game losing streak as they host Lincoln (Pa.) as a part of homecoming week today in Roebuck Stadium at 1 p.m.
ECSU (3-3, 1-2 CIAA) has been hurt by slow starts this season, as the Vikings have been outscored by a combined 103-36 in the first quarter of their six games this season.
Lincoln (0-6, 0-3 CIAA) ranks at the bottom of the conference offensively and defensively, scoring just 11.7 points per game and allowing 54.5 points per game.
ECSU is 9-0 all time in the series over Lincoln, including a 33-23 win last season.
Wilson said he is telling his team to play with a chip on their shoulder and treat every game as if the odds are against them and not worry about the opponent’s record.
“We just need to stay focused and execute, we are not treating them like an 0-6 team,” Wilson said.
The second-year head coach added that with four games left in the season, anything can happen in the division, so the Vikings must do what they can to win as many games as possible down the stretch.