Sterling Impresses NFL Recruits at Pro Day

NealSterling2Miles Austin, Jose Gumbs, Chris Hogan: all former Hawks who continued to make names for themselves in the game of football. Since former Monmouth star Miles Austin found his way from the Jersey Shore to Dallas, TX, the NFL Draft process has found its way to West Long Branch, NJ. 

Last year, the turnout for Monmouth’s Pro Day was not as extreme, but did feature cornerback Tevrin Brandon who ran a 4.34 40-yard dash and went on  to land himself a deal with the Denver Broncos. This year has been a record- breaking year for MU with NFL representatives, 19 to be exact, making their way to Wall, NJ to watch 11 of the small school’s athletes show what they can do. 

Neal Sterling, 6’3” and 238 pounds, was this year’s headliner. 

A fifth-year senior wide receiver and a star player for the Hawks’ offense, it didn’t take long for Sterling to realize what more can come to him from the game. With this year’s season ending, Sterling went out catching 55 passes for 905 yards and six touchdowns, helping the team finish 6-5 in their first season as members of the Big South Conference. Once the season came to an end it was time for Sterling’s next step for a career to begin. 

Sterling set out and looked for an agent, who he had a difficult time choosing at first because of all the offers and promises of what they can do for him. He decided on agent Dave Butz, who then sent Sterling down to begin training at a multipurpose facility in Pensacola, FL called EXOS which specializes in performance assessment training. Sterling kicked off the new year with training beginning on Jan. 3 and work outs six days a week and double sessions which continued up to just the weekend before Monmouth’s Pro Day on Tuesday, March 10.

“My schedule was a lot different down there which helped me extremely in the long run to solely focus on bettering myself and how I play the game. Me and the other guys training didn’t have to worry about school or anything just football was the focus. It allowed us to really prepare our minds and bodies by getting a lot of rest, eating right every day and it was easy to focus on football since you’re not a home and there are less distractions,” said Sterling.

Sterling ran a 4.58 at Pro Day and did not have a number for the 40 yard dash until this opportunity. Although this number is not an average speed for an NFL wide receiver, his other talents showed just how much of an advantage teams would have by bringing him on the field. A wide receiver with a strong upper body can give him an advantage to try out other sports on the field, such as a tight end. In addition to his 40 time, Sterling also had a 35-inch vertical and 9-8 broad jump. He ran a short 4.25 shuttle and 7.07 3-cone drill and threw the bar up 16 times. All this work definitely started some talk between the scouts. 

Sterling had been around football most of his life growing up around the corner from MU in Belmar, NJ and attending Manasquan High School. In high school, Sterling was All-State varsity his senior year in three sports, earned First Team All-Shore Conference, All-Monmouth County and All-Division honors at wide receiver. He started both his junior and senior year on the field playing defense and safety positions as well as a wide receiver. When colleges started reaching out, offers from other D1 schools such as UNH, New Hampshire, Fordham, and Albany to name a few began rolling in however, growing up from the shore Sterling had a good idea of where he wanted to play. 

Sterling also went to high school with Head Coach Kevin Callahan’s son and was close with them for all four years. Sterling really wanted MU and this connection to the school along with the new Multipurpose Activity Center built just a year before Sterling arrived, made it feel like a right fit and he was offered a scholarship to MU to play his junior year of high school. 

Sterling has been talking to a bunch of representatives from NFL teams and had lunch with the Philadelphia Eagles’ wide receiver’s coach. Sterling had worked out with the Denver Broncos as well as the Tennessee Titans. 

On April 14, Sterling will travelled down to Jacksonville, FL to workout with the Jaguars. Workouts with the New York Jets and Giants are scheduled for April as well.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics