Former Catamounts Nick McNeil, Mitchell Dukes Sign in Professional Football

McNeil joins Eddie Cohen in CFL with Winnipeg; Dukes signs with af2's Spokane Shock

Former WCU defensive lineman Nick McNeil has been signed by the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

June 5, 2008

Cullowhee, N.C. - Two more former Western Carolina Catamount football players have signed to play professionally. Defensive lineman Nick McNeil (2000-03) has been signed to the training camp roster of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League (CFL), while defensive back Mitchell Dukes (2003-06) was inked by the 2006 arenafootball2 (af2)champion, Spokane (Wash.) Shock.

Dukes and McNeil join a host of former Catamounts currently playing professional football at the various levels. McNeil joins Eddie Cohen (Hamilton TigerCats), a second team All-American last season, in the CFL. Michale Spicer (2000-03) and Kevin McAlmont (2002-05) are teammates on the Arena Football League (AFL) New Orleans VooDoo. Dukes joins Rico Reese (2002-04) of the Tennessee Valley Vipers in the af2.

Fullback Brad Hoover (1996-99) will begin his eighth season with the NFL's Carolina Panthers and journeyman David Patten (1992-95), who has been around the league since 1997, was signed to a year extension with the New Orleans Saints back in March.

McNeil has spent time in both the NFL with four different teams since leaving Cullowhee. Originally signed with Pittsburgh as an undrafted rookie free agent in April 2004, McNeil was waived by the Steelers in August 2004 and signed with the Packers in December 2004, where he was a member of the practice squad for the remainder of the season.

A three-time All-Southern Conference pick while at Western, McNeil spent the 2005 preseason with the Packers, but was released at the start of training camp. He was allocated to NFL Europe as a member of the Hamburg Sea Devils, finishing second on the team with 65 tackles, including one sack; also made one interception which he returned 28 yards for a score, forced a pair of fumbles, blocked a field goal and recorded eight tackles on special teams. For his effort, he was named 2005 All-NFL Europe League by the league's coaches and media.



McNeil has also spent time with the Green Bay Packers, the Washington Redskins during their play-off run in 2006, and with the New York Giants.

Dukes appeared in 39 games over his four-year career at WCU and recorded 142 total tackles with four interceptions and 8.5 sacks, including 6.5 his junior season to rank 21st in the nation. A native of Atlanta, Ga., Dukes earned his first All-Southern Conference honor as a senior. Despite battling numerous injuries, he still ranked fourth on the team with 60 tackles, while his three interceptions (0.27 per contest) ranked fifth in the SoCon. More impressively, of his three picks, Dukes returned two of those for touchdowns, including an 18-yarder versus Chowan and a 28-yarder versus Chattanooga, to rank as the fourth-leading scorer on the 2006 team.

In addition to returning an interception for a TD versus UTC, Dukes picked off a second pass versus the Mocs and finished the game with a career-high 13 stops. Two weeks later, he recorded 11 tackles at Wofford. He scored three touchdowns in his career, returning those two INTs for TDs in `06 and recovering a blocked punt in the end zone versus Gardner-Webb in his freshman season.

Former Catamount defensive back Mitchell Dukes signed with the af2's Spokane Shock.

Dukes joins a Shock squad which currently boasts a perfect 9-0 record, and was ranked atop the latest af2 Coaches' Poll, receiving 27 of the 29 first-place votes. The Spokane, Washington-based team has been ranked second for nine-straight weeks in that same poll and are the last remaining unbeaten team in the league.

Western Carolina opens its 2008 season by hosting Shorter College at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field on Thursday, August 28 at 7:00 pm. Season tickets are still available by contacting the WCU ticket office at 800-34-GOWCU or online at

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