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McNeil an All-Around Stud for Timon

Photo by Shawn Turri

The defending Monsignor Martin ‘B’ Division champion Bishop Timon-St. Jude Tigers have a battering ram at running back, and his name is James McNeil.

McNeil, the reigning ‘B’ Division Player of the Year, was one of the Tigers’ driving forces on their way to the title, and not only is he a good football player but he’s also a model citizen according to coach Matt Weiser.

“James is such a respectful, driven young man,” Weiser said. “He's someone who strives to be the best in everything he does. He's someone who truly does care about the people around him. He really does appreciate the people who have helped him get to where he is and is one of the nicest young men you'll ever get to be around and watch work. I can't say enough good things about him.

“One of my favorite things about him is off the field, he's all those incredible things, but on the field he's a dog. He plays hard. He plays fast. He plays physical. He's competitive and he wants to win at everything he does. That's one of the things that as a coach you love – someone who, when off the field you're kind, you're respectful and compassionate but once you cross those lines, you're ready to attack and win. And that sums up James McNeil to a ‘T’.”

Those qualities made McNeil an obvious choice to be one of the Tigers’ captains, and Weiser said that honor couldn’t have gone to a better person.

“James has earned that title as one of our captains,” Weiser said. “He has done a lot of incredible things, but it doesn't change who he is. At the end of the day, James wants to lead and help his teammates win, which is obviously the most important thing. The win is the most important statistic in sports, and James, who has had a lot of success on his own, hasn't forgotten that part of the game.”

That sort of success and his will to win also extends to other sports. McNeil, who has accumulated 281 rushing yards and six touchdowns through three weeks, is also a two-time New York State rugby player of the year and his experience playing that sport has helped him make an impact not only at running back, but at other football positions too.

“We could plug and play him in numerous different positions – running back, wide receiver, cornerback, safety, middle linebacker, he plays all over the place,” Weiser said. “When he transferred here from Canisius, he just wanted to make an impact somehow. He's one of those special players that will do anything for his team, and he can make things happen at a lot of different positions.

“It’s great to have him be a part of our team and he’s bought into our system, what we expect and what we do here. And it was great to have him be a part of our team last year and help us get back to being champions.”

McNeil has committed to playing college football next year at the University at Buffalo. While also drawing interest from other schools such as Fordham and Colgate, among others, what made McNeil decide to go to UB was being able to buy into what the Bulls’ coaching staff was selling him.

“As a young kid it's hard sometimes to make those big decisions,” Weiser said. “Thankfully, we've got some coaches on our staff who have gone through it as well, including myself as a UB alum.

“I tried to step back from being excited when (Bulls coach) Maurice Linguist offered him because I was pumped that I can have one of my own guys go to the school that I played at, but I decided to step back and be a coach and I wanted to help him make the decision that was best for him. He had a lot of opportunities but at the end of the day, he felt comfortable with what UB’s coaching staff talked to him about and saw their vision for him, and he’s excited about it.”

Weiser knows that McNeil is the type of guy who doesn’t come around often – he’s one of a kind, and he’s thankful to be his coach.

“James has untapped potential – he really is a special young man,” Weiser said. “He works very, very diligently and very hard. That's one of the things that Coach Linguist and I talked about with him is his work ethic and his attention to detail.

“You go back to him being a captain – one of his favorite things that he breaks the team down with is ‘ATD on three’. Which stands for attention to detail. He's very, very detail-oriented and he's a young man who's going to be successful at no matter what he wants to do, whether it be sports or something off the field because he does work that hard.”

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