CEDAR FALLS -- Senior Rickey Neal Jr. and sophomore Xavior Williams have both earned spots on the Missouri Valley Football Conference's preseason all-defense unit, the league announced Wednesday.
Neal and Williams received their honors one day after four Panther offensive players -- Briley Moore, Marcus Weymiller, Isaiah Weston and Cal Twait -- were named to the offensive team.
Neal, a senior from Racine, Wis., was named to the first team, one day after also being named a preseason All-American by STATS FCS.
Neal is expected to play outside linebacker this year for the Panthers after making 10 starts for UNI last fall at defensive end. He led the MVFC with 9 1/2 sacks as part of 15 1/2 tackles for loss among his 51 tackles. He forced and receovered two fumbles and was named to the all-MVFC second team.
Williams, a freshman All-American by HERO and Phil Steele last fall, was named to the second team. He played in all 13 games a year ago, including eight starts at cornerback. He had 25 solo and 30 total tackles while recording four interceptions and eight pass breakups.
UNI opens fall camp today and its season opener is Sept. 1 at Montana.