Empire Sign Two Players With NFL Experience As Part Of Busy Weekend
The Albany Empire is about five weeks from kicking off the 2021 season and if this weekend's additions are any sign, they'll be ready. Over the weekend the Empire signed seven total players two of which have caught the eye of the NFL. Linebacker Rickey Neal Jr. and Wide Reciever Marcel Newson who spent time training with the Vikings and Steelers respectively are part of a busy weekend where Empire head coach Tom Menas' roster has begun to take shape.
The coaching staff is set, open tryouts are less than a week away, and seeing the level of talent that joined the roster this weekend you can start to see the direction the Empire is headed. Get to know a few of the new faces of the Albany Empire below.
Maryland native David Pindell comes to the Empire after a standout career at The University of Connecticut where he set numerous records as a QB. David started 16 games over two years for the Huskies and was an All-Conference performer. His play at U Conn earned him an undrafted free agent opportunity with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019. Later in 2019, David spent time with the Montreal Alouettes, most recently David played in the Fan Controlled Football League (FCF) where he scored the first-ever TD in the league's history and helped lead his team, the Glacier Boyz to the inaugural FCF championship game.
Juwan is one of the most decorated athletics in South East Louisiana history earning 3 All-American selections and 4 all-conference nods as a WR and Returner in just 2 seasons. Prior to landing at SE Juwan spent a couple of seasons at Ellsworth Community College where he was also an all-conference performer
Pennsylvania native Jo-El Shaw grew up in a family of athletes, his mother Freeda played volleyball at the University of Albany and his brother Jhevon played LB at Michigan State. Jo-El starred at Woodland Hills where he was an all-state RB/LB. He started his college career at Lackawanna Community College where he was named to the All-Conference team after averaging 94 rushing yards per game. His play there opened the door for an opportunity at Kent State where he took over as their starting running back upon his arrival and led the team in rushing during both his seasons there. Jo-El is a powerful and explosive RB who is also able to line up as a wide receiver, his versatility should help him find great success indoors for the Empire.
Rickey Neal Jr
Northern Iowa University
NFL - Vikings
CFL - Toronto / Calgary
Wisconsin native Rickey Neal played his prep football at Racine Park High School in Racine Wisconsin where he was a standout QB and LB. He received an opportunity at Northern Iowa where he was recruited as an athlete and shifted to defensive end. At UNI Neal was a two-time All-Conference performer, leading the conference in sacks his senior season. Neal garnered a lot of NFL interest ultimately taking an undrafted free agent with the Minnesota Vikings. After his NFL release, Neal was signed by Calgary Stampeders of the CFL before Covid wiped out their season and then signed with Toronto.
After a 4-star prep career in Tennessee, Patrick started his college career at Arizona Western where he was named the National NJCCA Defensive Player of the Year in 2016. Patrick transferred to Oklahoma State but after a foot injury set him back he took a graduate transfer opportunity where he had a standout Senior Season.
Mississippi product Marcel Newson rose through the ranks from HS, junior college, and college in his home state. Marcel starred at Coldwater HS, was an All-American at Northwest Mississippi Community College before transferring to Mississippi College where he averaged over 100 all-purpose yards per game, was named the team MVP his senior season, and was named to the all-NCCAA team. His college accomplishments turned the spotlight to NFL scouts and he accepted a mini-camp invite from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Mid American University
Brandon Watson, a Peoria Illinois native, started at Yuba Community College where his play earned him an opportunity at Mid-American University. After college Brandon earned a spot with the Saint Louis Battlehawks of the XFL.