Foxborough, Mass., native earns weekly award after record-setting performance
EASTON, Mass. (September 12, 2011) – Stonehill College senior All-American Stephan Neville (Foxborough, Mass./Foxborough) has been named the Northeast-10 Conference's Special Teams Player of the Week by the league office today.
Neville, who earns the weekly award for the first time this season (third career), set an NCAA Division II record with his ninth career kickoff return for a touchdown in Saturday's 23-20 overtime setback at Pace University. His 88-yard return for a score answered Pace's first field goal of the afternoon and gave the Skyhawks a 7-3 lead just before the end of the first quarter and broke the previous Division II record set by Winona State University's Dave Ludy from 1991-94.
Neville, who is just two kickoff return touchdowns shy of the NCAA all-divisions record of 11 set by Florida A&M's LeRoy Vann from 2006-09, broke the record at the site of his first career touchdown return at Finnerty Field against Pace on September 13, 2008. He averaged 52.3 yards on his three kickoff returns on Saturday and totaled 12 yards on three punt returns, while chipping in on defense with five tackles (three solo), including 0.5 for a loss of a yard and a pass breakup.
Neville ranks sixth nationally (2nd NE-10) through the first two weeks by averaging 38.4 yards on his five kickoff returns this season. He has totaled 192 yards on kickoff returns and 28 yards (5.6 per return) on five punt returns. Neville has contributed on defense with six tackles (four solo), including 1.0 for a loss of a yard, and two pass breakups (3rd NE-10).
Neville, a preseason All-American by several preseason outlets, became the first All-American in program history last fall when he was named to the American Football Coaches' Association (AFCA) Division II Coaches' All-America Team. He also earned All-New England and All-Northeast-10 honors as a kick returner after matching an NCAA Division II record with four kickoff returns for touchdowns. Neville led the NE-10 for the second-straight year by averaging 30.9 yards per kickoff return (3rd nationally). Neville returned 25 kickoffs for 773 yards, including a career-long matching 94 yard return for a score against NE-10 champions University of New Haven. Neville finished second on the team with 848 all-purpose yards, adding six punt returns for 38 yards and 37 interception return yards.
Neville, a two-time All-Conference selection at cornerback with his second team award last fall, added a fumble recovery that he returned 35 yards for a touchdown against Southern Connecticut State in 2010, to finish the year with five total returns for scores – just one shy of the NCAA Division II record for total touchdown returns.
Neville is the lone player in program history to earn All-Northeast-10 honors at two positions, doing so in each of the last two seasons. He is a three-time All-NE-10 pick as return specialist after collecting first team honors for the second-straight year this fall, while earning first team All-Conference honors at cornerback his sophomore season.
Neville, an NE-10 All-Rookie team selection as a freshman, has played 32 games over his career and returned 69 kicks for 2,301 yards (33.35/return), with the nine returns for touchdowns. He has two career 94-yards touchdown returns, the first coming on the opening kickoff of a 23-21 win over then No. 24-ranked Bentley University in the final game of the 2009 season, with the latter coming against New Haven in 2010. Neville led all of Division II when he averaged 36.7 yards per return his sophomore season.
Neville has totaled 140 tackles (95 solo) over his career on defense for Stonehill, posting 3.5 career tackles for a loss, 11 interceptions with another 22 pass breakups, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Stonehill (1-1, 0-0 NE-10) opens its Northeast-10 schedule on Friday night when it hosts rival Bentley (1-1, 0-0 NE-10) at W.B. Mason Stadium at 7 p.m.