John Neal Joins Ducks' Football Staff As Defensive Back Coach

Jan. 24, 2003

EUGENE -- John Neal, who has accumulated 14 years of experience tutoring the defensive secondary in Conference USA, the Southeastern and the Pacific-10 conferences, has been named as defensive backs coach at the University of Oregon, according to an announcement by the Ducks' head coach Mike Bellotti.

Neal's appointment is effective immediately. He replaces Mike Gillhamer, who resigned following two seasons to accept the position as defensive coordinator at Louisville.

The 46-year-old Mountain View, Calif., native comes to Oregon following eight seasons coaching the defensive backs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Included were his last two years with additional responsibilities as passing game coordinator in which the Blazers ranked fifth in the country in total defense in 2001 (265.9 avg.).

However, the 23-year collegiate coaching veteran has accumulated an impressive resume for a program which has only fielded an intercollegiate football team since 1991 and began playing at the Division I-A level in 1996. In addition to serving as the program's recruiting coordinator from 1995-2000, he helped spearhead a defense which ranked ninth in the country in scoring defense and 11th in total defense in 2000. The season included a 13-10 win over LSU as part of a 7-4 record.

The Blazers also finished third in the nation in interceptions (19) in 1999 and ninth in the country in passing efficiency defense in 1997, with three of the defensive backs from those teams (Rodregis Brooks - Indianapolis, Izell Reese - Denver, and Dainon Sidney - Tennessee) still active in the NFL.

'I am very pleased to have a coach with the expertise and experience of John Neal join our staff,' Bellotti said. 'He brings with him a vast knowledge of defenses he has accumulated from some of the best football conferences in the nation, he is a great technician as well as a great recruiter.'

Prior to arriving at UAB in 1995, Neal served as defensive secondary coach at the University of Mississippi from 1992-94. His 1993 squad led the nation in total defense (234.5 avg.) and ranked third against the pass while allowing the fewest touchdown passes in the country (5). The Rebels finished sixth nationally in pass defense while leading the SEC in 1994.

Neal sandwiched a pair of stints as defensive coordintor at the University of Pacific (1990-91) and East Tennessee State (1986) around a three-year tenure as defensive backs coach at Oregon State (1987-89). The Beavers ranked second in the Pac-10 in pass defense in 1987 (183.3 avg.).

The 1980 Brigham Young University physical education graduate was a two-year letterman for the Cougars after playing two seasons at Foothill College (Los Altos Hills, Calif.) from 1975-76. He earned first-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors as a defensive back at BYU as a senior in 1979.

He broke into the coaching profession as a graduate assistant at his alma mater in the spring of 1980 before beginning as junior varsity coach at New Mexico in the fall. Neal was elevated to a Lobos' full-time assistant coach in 1981, where he coached the defensive backs through the 1985 campaign.

Neal (12-18-56) and his wife, Jan, are the parents of one son, Casey (11-24-78), as well as daughters Christin (9-12-85) and Caitlin (12-22-81).

TRANSACTIONS WIRE: OREGON -- Named John Neal defensive backs coach.

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