Neville Going Pro
January 30, 2012
by David Carty
The Sun Chronicle
Stephan Neville had a chance to tour Montreal on a trip north of the border with his buddies last year for spring break.
That was for pleasure. Next time he's north of the border, it'll be on business.
On Friday the former Foxboro High and Stonehill College football standout signed a one-year contract with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. Attempts to reach the team's offices Saturday night were unsuccessful.
"I'm blessed; that's all I can really say," the 21-year-old Neville said. "I'm excited for the opportunity to go into training camp and try to work my way onto the roster."
If he makes the cut after the team's summer training camp, Neville would earn the league's minimum salary, set at $44,000 for the 2012 season per the league's collective bargaining agreement. The 5-foot-8, 175-pound defensive back and kick returner piled up accolades in his playing days with at Stonehill College. He earned first team All-Northeast-10 honors thrice and became the program's first All-American after being named to the American Football Coaches Association Coaches' All-America squad in 2010.
His greatest feats at Stonehill came on special teams, where he set an NCAA Division II record with 10 career kickoff returns for touchdowns and tied the NCAA All-Division record with his 11 career kick return touchdowns - including one punt return.
As a defensive back, Neville totaled 164 tackles and 12 interceptions in his college career. He played in 40 of a possible 41 games in his four seasons with the Skyhawks. In discussing his role on the team, Neville found he fits in well with what the Alouettes need in the 2012 season.
"We talked about kick returning, that's my big strength," he said. "That's something they said their team needs, but they also have a need at defensive back. I'm coming in and trying to help them in any way that I can.
"I had a pretty good season this year. Obviously my goal was to move on to the next level. I wanted to just get a shot somewhere."
At Foxboro, Neville was used as a punt returner and defensive back, never returning kicks. His former high school coach Jack Martinelli was thrilled to hear the news of Neville's signing, acknowledging the achievement was a product of individual hard work. "It's an accolade for him," Martinelli said. "He's a hard-working kid; he deserves it. All he needs is a chance. He is a kid who did the right things and he has a great family who made sure he did the right things."
The 2008 graduate of Foxboro High is in his final semester at Stonehill, where he is a business major.
The Alouettes are seven-time Grey Cup champions, including eight appearances in the last 12 seasons and championships in 2009 and 2010. Last season, Montreal went 10-8 before being knocked off by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the CFL East semifinal. The 2012 season is slated to begin in late June or early July.
Neville's first call, wisely, was to his mother Yolanda, who shared the news with his ecstatic family. "It hasn't really sunk it yet," Stephan Neville said. "We're all really excited for the opportunity."
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