Skyhawks' kick returner, cornerback signs contract with Montreal Alouettes
By Jim Fenton
ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER
EASTON – Stephan Neville was hoping his final game at Stonehill College last Nov. 12 did not mark the end of his football career.
The All-America kick returner who also played cornerback for the Skyhawks the past four seasonswanted the chance to keep playing somewhere at the professional level.
"I knew I had the ability,'' said Neville. "I just needed the opportunity.''
That opportunity has arrived for the Foxboro High School graduate, who has signed a contract with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.
Neville, who received a two-year deal as an import player, will report to training camp on May 28, just over a week after he graduates from Stonehill with a degree in business administration.
"It's incredible,'' said Neville. "It's a dream come true, absolutely. I've been chasing this dream for a long time. I don't knowif it has really sunk in yet. I can't really put it all into words.''
Neville is the only football player at Stonehill to ever be selected an All-America, making the American Football Coaches Association team in 2010 as a kick returner. He made the All-Northeast-10 team four times as a return specialist and was on the all-conference team as a cornerback twice.
During his career, Neville returned 10 kickoffs for touchdowns to set a NCAA Div. 2 record. He was seventh nationally this year, averaging 29.8 yards per return and led the NE-10 in that category three straight years.
Neville tied the all-division record with 11 returns for scores (one punt, 10 kickoffs). He is second in program history with 3,175 all-purpose yards and made 164 tackles with 12 interceptions from the cornerback spot.
The plan for Neville was to take part at pro days held for scouts at Boston College and other schools in the area, but the CFL opportunity came first.
"My mom (Yolanda Neville) works with someone who knows somebody in Canada, who talked to the general manager of the Alou-ettes,'' he said. "They got a hold ofmy tape and offered me a contract after they saw it.
"They are looking for help at defensive back and in kick returning. I can't wait. Everything happens for a reason.''
Said Stonehill coach Robert Talley: "We are extremely proud of the opportunity Stephan has with the Montreal Alouettes. His hardwork and dedication to this football program has paid off and now he has an opportunity to chase his dream and play professional football.''