Saw action in one game as a sophomore running back … Earned playing time vs. Georgetown (Sept. 23).
Saw action in one game as a first-year … Contributed primarily at running back … Played in the season opener vs. Saint Francis U (Sept. 17).
A 2016 graduate of Mankato West High School in Mankato, Minn., where he played four years of varsity football for head coach Mark Esch … Second Team Associated Press All-State selection in 2015 after rushing for 1,430 yards and 18 touchdowns … Two-time Big SouthEast All-Conference team member … Selected to the 2015 All-City Team … 2015 Academic All-State selection … Big Nine Scholar Athlete Award winner … Named team MVP and team offensive player of the year as a senior … Over his career with the Scarlets, rushed 355 times for 2,599 yards and 29 touchdowns … Rushed for 1,430 yards and 18 touchdowns on 211 carries (6.8 yards per carry) and caught six passes for 119 yards and a TD as a senior … Rushed for 100 yards or more seven times and had five multi-touchdown games as a senior … Rushed for a career-high 199 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries vs. Rochester John Marshall … Rushed for three touchdowns and 79 yards vs. Austin … Rushed for 141 yards on 22 carries vs. Rochester Mayo … Scored two touchdowns and rushed for 137 yards on 15 carries (9.1 average) vs. Mankato East … Rushed for 176 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries vs. Bloomington Jefferson … Named KEYC Scheels All-Sports Prep Athlete of the Week … Played in the MFCA Tackle Cancer All-Star Football Game … Rushed for 189 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries in state tournament game vs. Rochester John Marshall … Led the Scarlets to an 11-1 overall record, perfect 8-0 conference record and section title as a senior … In 13 games, rushed 136 times for 1,142 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior … Averaged eight yards per carry … Earned team Most Improved Player as a junior … Named 2014 State Championship Player of the Game after helping Mankato West win the Minnesota Class 5A state title after scoring a touchdown and rushing for 128 yards on 22 carries as a junior … Led team to No. 1 state ranking and 12-1 overall record during junior season … Rushed for over 100 yards five times as a junior … Rushed for three touchdowns and 174 yards on only eight carries (21.8 yards per carry) vs. Owatonna .. Rushed for 182 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns vs. Red Wing … Rushed for 117 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown vs. Rochester Century … Rushed for 151 yards on 15 carries (10.1 average) in section title game vs. Northfield … Also led team to section championships in 2012, 2014 and 2015 … Ranked among the state of Minnesota’s top-50 recruits … Also competed in track and field … Personal bests include a 7.68 in the 60-meter dash, 41-7 ½ in the shot put and 115-0 in the discus events … Four-time Spotlight on Scholarship Award winner … Honor roll student … National Honor Society, Key Club and Positive Leadership Council member.
Born Van Johann Neils on September 14, 1997 … Son of Terry and Amy Neils … Nephew is former Minnesota Gopher and NFL player Steve Neils, who played seven years for the St. Louis Cardinals (1974-80) … Enrolled at Columbia College.