UNI’s Neal, Williams on MVFC teams

ST. LOUIS — The defensive teams have been announced for the Missouri Valley Football Conference and two players have been selected from the University of Northern Iowa.

Panthers linebacker Rickey Neal Jr. was selected to the first team, while defensive back Xavior Williams earned a second-team nod.

Neal is moving to outside linebacker for his senior season after spending the first three years as a defensive lineman. Neal made 10 starts for UNI last season at defensive end, leading the MVFC in sacks with 9.5.

He also had 51 tackles and 15 for loss, which ranked sixth and first for the Panthers respectively. Last season Neal was selected as an all-MVFC second-team player, and he was selected as a preseason All-American by STATS FCS for the upcoming year.

Williams played in all 13 games as a redshirt freshman in 2017, starting the final eight at cornerback. His four interceptions and eight pass breakups were both second on the team, and he had 25 solo tackles.

Williams was selected as a first-team All-American by HERO and a second-team All-American by Phil Steele last season.