CSU Bakersfield’s most decorated wrestler, Stephen Neal serves as the Alumni Relations Coordinator for the CSUB program.
Neal was CSUB’s once-in-a-lifetime wrestler who competed for the Roadrunners from 1996-99. Despite only placing fourth at the CIF State Championships as a high school senior, Neal bought into the CSUB program and developed into the world’s top wrestler.
He completed his career at CSUB as a four-time All-American and a two-time undefeated NCAA Division I champion. Neal went on to sweep through the world’s best competition in 1999. He started by becoming the 1999 U.S. Freestyle champion, and continued to win the Pan-American Games and, eventually, the world championship the same year.
For his efforts in 1999, Neal was named the U.S. Olympic Committee Wrestler of the Year and the FILA International Freestyle Wrestler of the Year.
Despite his wrestling ability, the call of the NFL was too appealing, and Neal took a shot in football even though he hadn’t played the sport since high school. Originally picked up by New England, Neal spent a short time in Philadelphia before being snatched away again by the Patriots where he has found a home at the right guard postition.
Neal was picked as a preseason starter on the offensive line in 2003, but an early-season shoulder injury ended his season prematurely. After a successful rehab stint, he became a regular starter in 2004. Neal and the Patriots have won three Super Bowls since 2002.
Neal retired in March 2011 from the Patriots after 10 years in the NFL.
Neal and his wife Jodee have two daughters, Colby and Jillian.