Jayden Neace is in a different world right now.
The former Perry Central standout is in a new system and a whole new style of football.
Neace is entering his freshman season with the Bears.
“Coming in as a freshman a lot of the seniors have stepped up and came to me and made sure I’ve got me reps in over the past few practices,” Neace said. “It feels like a brotherhood for sure. I’ve never been closer to anybody else. We’ve come along really well since camp. Right now, we’re just trying to get ready for Murray State.Trying to get condition and primed and ready, but everything is coming along well.”
Even though Neace is new to the team, the veteran returners have made his transition from high school to college smoother.
“A lot of older guys have come back,” Neace said. “We’ve got all conference linemen and all conference guys everywhere. X (Xondre Willis) is back at the H-back and we just have a great corps of leaders on the team and they’re just helping everybody out the best they can.”
Neace was unstoppable at Perry Central. He finished his senior season with 2,309 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns on 277 carries.
Neace is going from a power run system to a spread system at UPike.
Neace is trying to earn his touches and minutes on the field instead of being the first, second and third option on the team.
“Coming out of the offense I came from, it’s a little different,” Neace said. “I’m used to getting in my three-point stance and going and going and going. In this offense, you have to be really patient. Sometimes you have to even walk during the plays to let everything develop. It’s really different for me. It’s different, but I’m loving it honestly. A lot of people had doubts about me coming in thinking that I won’t be able to run the offense, but I’ve came along pretty well I fell like. Everything is going really well.”
Even though UPike has a high-powered offense, the Bears defense is key in their success.
“The defense has impressed me a lot during camp,” Neace said. “T (Taeron Brown) looks great. We have a great linebacker corps. The d-line looks great. Everybody is primed and ready. We have great energy during practice. The defense is getting on it. That’s going to be one of the core values of the team this year is defense.”
Neace has set some personal goals this season at UPike.
“Some of the goals I have for my freshman year is to just get out on the field and have fun,” Neace said. “I just want to get experience and help the team win. I just want to do whatever I can whether it’s blocking or running or anything.”
But the bigger goals are the team goals. The Bears want a conference championship.
“As a team, I’d like to see us grow and come together,” Neace said. “Just become closer is the main thing, but we do want to win a conference championship. That’s what we want to do. We want to win as many games as possible and we just want to make a name for ourselves. We are already being doubted because they’ve got us ranked near the bottom of the conference, so we just have to scratch and claw our way up. We are going to prove people wrong this year.”
UPike is scheduled to open the season Thursday, August 29 at Murray State University at 7:00 p.m.