Memphis Showboats linebacker TJ Neal is excited for every opportunity the UFL provides

TJ Neal, linebacker, Memphis Showboats
TJ Neal, linebacker, Memphis Showboats

Linebacker TJ Neal is back with the Memphis Showboats, and after taking the off-season to work on his game, he is ready to perform.

“One thing I did this offseason was make sure I was in the best shape possible, mentally and physically,” Neal said. “Being able to come into camp and separate at an early point in camp to show the guys, teammates, and coaches, to build rapport.”

A graduate of Illinois and Auburn, in the 2023 USFL season Neal racked up 31 tackles and 0.5 sacks for the Showboats. Now he wants to up his game and hit the field as a better athlete.

“Playing in space, and becoming a better open field tackler,” Neal said of the ways he wanted to improve his game. Neal added, “Finishing the whole game. Being well conditioned and not being tired and fatigued when it comes to the fourth quarter.”

Neal has his work cut out for him as the level of competition has increased this year.

“Coach DeFilippo made it known, announcing that this is the most competitive camp, which has given us a level of urgency,” Neal explained. “In the scrimmages, the guys want to showcase what they do, have value, and want to build a role on a team.”

Neal pointed out that the merger was responsible for an increased level of intensity.

“We share the level of intensity,” Neal said. “With the merge and the excitement everyone is being appreciative for the opportunity. A lot of teams didn’t make it, and a lot of players, and coaches lost jobs. because of the merger. So I believe, along with the coaches and the players, it’s a level of excitement because they have this opportunity.”

Neal is looking forward to the Showboats first game against Houston, mainly because the Roughnecks are known for their running game, and Neal is more than happy to thwart their efforts.

“That’s my forte,” Neal said. “It’s gonna be a very physical game… It’s exciting as an inside linebacker, and they’re trying to run between the tackles. So, this will be excitement.”

The Memphis Showboats play their first game on Sunday, March 31 at 3:00 PM (ET) on the road against the Houston Roughnecks.

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