DES MOINES -- Last season, when the Iowa Barnstormers won their first-ever United Bowl, quarterback Drew Powell won the IFL's MVP award.
Daquan Neal stepped in at QB this season. Neal played against Powell in college.
“It’s definitely inspiring seeing another player you used to play against succeed,” said Neal.
Neal wanted that success, but needed work.
“I took a look at him, saw he had a lot of talents, but I knew that he was raw because he didn’t get a lot of coaching in college,” said Barnstormers head coach Dixie Wooten. “When he got here for camp, we went through a lot of stuff to get him better.”
“As far as getting out of the pocket and making plays, that’s always been second nature,” said Neal. “I did that in college my whole career, so once I got here I wanted to be a better passer in the pocket.”
DQ did that. 59 passing touchdowns, 24 more on the ground.
“He steps up to the game,” said wide receiver Ryan Balentine. “When it’s on the line, he’s game. He’s ready to go, whether it’s throwing the big ball or taking off with his legs.
“As long as I know we can get to the fourth quarter, I don’t care if there’s three seconds on the clock,” said wide receiver for Jazeric Peterson. “As long as I’ve got DQ, I’m good.”
And so are the Barnstormers. Prior to this season, Neal had never stepped foot in Iowa. But he stepped in Wells Fargo Arena, and made his case for MVP.
“When you’re completing 72 percent of your passes, and you have 59 touchdowns and three interceptions, he’s going to win it hands down,” said Wooten.“Whenever you need points, you go out and score. Whenever the team needs motivation, you give the team motivation,” said Neal. “I just do what the team needs me to do.”
“Playing behind a championship team, playing behind a quarterback that won the MVP, he had big shoes to fill. He came in and did everything he had to.”
Next thing for Neal to do: win in the playoffs.