Lorenzo Neal stood at midfield of Bulldog Stadium on Oct. 23 all smiles surrounded by friends and family. He was about to witness his No. 22 jersey retired by the Fresno State Bulldogs.

Neal, a Lemoore native and a former two-sport star at Fresno State, told reporters Wednesday that his jersey retirement shows the opportunities that are possible for those from small communities. 

“I think what life’s about, this opportunity, this is not necessarily about me. This is about other individuals that are coming from small communities, whether it’s Corcoran, Huron — it doesn’t matter — Hanford, Lemoore. Greatness is in each one of us. Sometimes we let our condition dictate our position, and sometimes we believe that we can’t be successful because we go around and we allow people to dictate and put you in the box that they feel you should be in,” Neal said. 

In front of those in attendance during the Bulldogs 34-32 victory over Nevada, the university unveiled the No. 22 placard that took its place on the press box façade next to other Bulldog greats. It was the eighth jersey retired by the university.

His name was enshrined on the press box along with Derek Carr, David Carr, Kevin Sweeney, Trent Dilfer, Vince Petrucci, Dale Messer, and Henry Ellard. 

After playing running back and winning a state championship as a wrestler at Lemoore High School, Neal enrolled at Fresno State. 

As a Bulldog, Neal racked up over 2,400 rushing yards as a running back from 1990-1992 and was also named an All-American as a wrestler. 

“It was crazy,” Neal said of his two-sport days. “I was young and stupid. Playing both sports, it was honestly one of the toughest, hardest things I’ve ever had to do.” 

Following his collegiate days, Neal joined the New Orleans Saints as a fourth-round selection in the 1993 NFL Draft, kicking off a 16-year career in the pros. 

Neal was the league’s elite fullback over his career as he played for seven different teams. He was the lead blocker for a 1,000-yard running back for 11 straight seasons and earned notable prowess blocking for LaDainian Tomlinson with the San Diego Chargers. 

“I’m grateful that this great institution is allowing my jersey, my name to go up in the stadium,” Neal said. “I was just very taken back, surreal and humbled by it.”

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