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NFL tryout leaves Sugar Skulls with out star QB for Saturday’s recreation vs. Wranglers | Sugarskulls

The unlucky unintended effects to having nice gamers within the IFL: Competing skilled soccer leagues might — and infrequently do — poach them at a second’s discover.

The Tucson Sugar Skulls, using a three-game profitable streak and recent off the franchise’s first win over the Arizona Rattlers, are the most recent victims.

Sugar Skulls quarterback Daquan Neal, who leads the IFL in passing yards (1,021) and touchdowns (26), will miss Saturday’s recreation in opposition to the Northern Arizona Wranglers in Prescott so he can attend a two-day tryout with the Indianapolis Colts.

Neal wasstellar final weekend, score2 12 of 15 passes for 15 yards and 5 touchs and dashing for 2 in a win over the then-undefeated Rattlers. On Tuesday, Sugar Skulls coach and basic supervisor Dixie Wooten acquired a telephone name from Colts director of professional scouting Jonathan Shaw inquiring about Neal.

“I obtained the decision one minute, then despatched within the paperwork in 22 seconds, so (Neal) might get his (butt) up outta right here and go check out for the Colts,” Wooten mentioned.

Persons are additionally studying…

With Neal out, the Sugar Skulls will flip to Gabriel Cunningham, a Texas Tech and New Mexico State product who just lately performed professionally in Europe.

Cunningham “understands the sport of soccer and is fairly rattling good,” Wooten mentioned. “Persons are going to be stunned once they see him taking part in.”

Wooten does not view Neal’s tryout as an issue — even when the Colts find yourself poaching him.

“If we’re not shifting individuals up, why have the IFL?” he mentioned. “It is nice for the league, as a result of now it exhibits the NFL is watching the most effective participant in our league. … I am tremendous happy with him. To see him develop as a quarterback, I am tremendous happy with him getting this case with the Colts, as a result of now it exhibits the onerous work pays off. You train it, however in terms of the scenario and it really works, it makes you’re feeling good.”

Due to Neal, the Sugar Skulls have the highest-scoring offense within the IFL, averaging 55.4 factors per recreation. Tucson has twice franchise information for many factors scored in a recreation, placing up 72 in opposition to San Diego earlier than scoring 74 in opposition to the Rattlers.

Neal, a Franklinton, North Carolina native and Elizabeth Metropolis State alumnus, has solely thrown one interception this season, which was within the fourth quarter in a 67-66 loss to the San Diego Strike Pressure. Since then, Neal has thrown 20 touchdowns with no interceptions.

“He is obtained the dimensions, the arm, the toes, the management and the dedication to make somebody a winner,” Wooten mentioned.

Wooten’s quest to ship an NFL tryout to Neal started earlier than the coach and quarterback moved to Tucson. When Neal led Wooten’s Iowa Barnstormers in 2019 and was named the IFL MVP, the duo developed a tight-knit relationship. Wooten persistently filmed Neal’s exercises and quarterback drills and maintained contact with the Colts over the past three years.

“He is prepared to be taught every little thing with a view to be nice,” Wooten mentioned. “After I first obtained him in 2019, he was uncooked, however he listened to teaching, adopted his strategies and now have a look at him immediately.”

Happily for Tucson, the Sugar Skulls nonetheless have All-IFL working again Mike Jones, who leads the league in dashing touchdowns (13), and a receiving corps that has three gamers — Arthur Jackson, Quinton Pedroza and Carrington Thompson — among the many high 12 pass-catchers within the IFL.

“I really feel like we obtained the momentum proper now, so we’d as properly maintain this factor rolling,” mentioned Jones. “Like I’ve mentioned earlier than, it is at all times us in opposition to us any time we step foot on the soccer subject. We’ve everybody beginning to purchase into what’s actually occurring.”

Saturday’s winner will safe sole possession of second place within the Western Convention standings behind the Rattlers.

Additional factors

Tucson kicker Logan Justus was named IFL Particular Groups Participant of the Week for his efficiency in opposition to the Rattlers. Justus made each of his field-goal makes an attempt and tallied eight PATs.

Within the final assembly between the Sugar Skulls and Wranglers three weeks in the past, Northern Arizona large receiver Quentin Randolph scored seven all-purpose touchdowns; Tucson gained 72-62.

The Sugar Skulls checked in at No. 5 within the IFL Coaches Ballot this week. Tucson is behind the Rattlers, the Frisco Fighters, Northern Arizona and the Massachusetts Pirates.

Contact sports activities producer Justin Spears at 573-4312 or jspears@tucson.com. On Twitter: @JustinESports

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