SMITHFIELD, R.I. - The New England Patriots announced the signing of free-agent defensive lineman Stephen Neal, today. Subsequently, the Patriots waived offensive lineman Terrance Beadles.
Neal, 24, finished his career as a collegiate wrestler at California State University-Bakersfield with a record of 156-10, including 83-0 in his final two seasons. The 6-foot-4-inch, 290-pound defensive lineman was a four-time All-American wrestler (1996-99) at CSUB. In 1999, Neal was the World Freestyle Champion, Pan-American Games Champion, USA Freestyle Champion and repeat NCAA Champion. He also won the Dan Hodge Award, known as the Heisman Trophy of wrestling. He was an alternate for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and placed second in the Olympic Trials in 2000. He recently finished second in the World Team Trials. He last played football at San Diego High School, where he was a five-sport athlete. In addition to wrestling and football, he also lettered in swimming, tennis and track and field.
Beadles, 25, was originally signed by the Patriots as rookie free agent on April 19, 2000. He was placed on injured reserve on Aug. 22, 2000. The 6-foot-3-inch, 300-pound lineman started 39 career games at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.