Sig profile: Trojan Center on team under a new coach
"a step in the right direction."
IN UNIFORM: Trojan starting center Brett Neilon. GROUP: Brett and his Sigma Chi brothers in Las Vegas for fun. COUPLE: Brett with his girlfriend Constance. GAME: Brett calling audibles before a play against UNLV. IN TOKYO: Pledge brother Drew Jessup and Brett in Tokyo. IN TOKYO: Drew, Brett and Ryan Flynn. Not pictured is Chris McBee.
Sigma Chi brother Brett Neilon says things under interim Head Football Coach Donte Williams is "going well" and the resulting stability is "a step in the right direction."
The 2021-22 Trojan football team "has a bright future", while preparing to slam back pancakes at The Griddle restaurant just off Hollywood Boulevard.
And he’s building even more strength to slam back defensive linemen too.
“I love the new strength staff that we have,” says the 6-2, 305-pound third-year starter in the middle protecting starting quarterback Kedon Slovis. “They’re very good.” Neilon is already one big guy. Lucky for the Trojans he’s getting even stronger.
Brother Neilon, a red shirt junior, was a 2020 All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention and has already played in 22 games, starting 17 of them. At Santa Margarita Catholic High School, he was named Prep Star All-American Dream Team and a boatload of other honors. If that wasn’t enough, he also lettered in basketball and track and field, and was named Athlete of the Year and earned the Academic Scholar Award.
The football star says the Covid restrictions were tough. There was no spring ball. “It’s nice to go work out with the team and be together, gearing up for fall camp in a few weeks.”
He brings his Sigma Chi mindset to practice and to everything else he does. His favorite Sig teaching? “The Spirit of Sigma Chi is the one that means the most to me,” he says. “I have been able to form tons of different relationships with tons of different people. All of different backgrounds and talents. All of the Sigs I’ve met push each other to become the best version of themselves no matter what their goals or dreams are.”
Brett was initiated at Alpha Upsilon in late spring 2018 and loved it all. “Most importantly are the relationships, the brotherhood I’ve formed with a lot of the guys,” he says. He’s one of a long line of Trojan football players starting with a bunch of brothers on USC’s very first football team back in the 1800’s. It’s generally too hard for football players to live in the chapter house. But Brett keeps close to the guys, especially his pledge brothers.
In fact, Brett took three of them to his adopted hometown: Tokyo. He lived there for 14 years – most of his life. Japan is his mom’s homeland and his dad’s career took him there. Growing up, Brett managed to learn just a little Japanese. “I can speak some.” While there, he played baseball, basketball, soccer and the martial art of aikido.
Then his family moved to Orange County where he went to school from 8th grade through high school.
The pledge brothers loved the trip to Tokyo. “It was super fun.” They stayed with friends and hung out at places Brett knew from years back.
The brothers stay close on group chats. “I’ll be lifelong friends with some of them,” he says proudly.
The fraternity is an important diversion for Brett so he can break away from the grind and captivity of football. He can go there and just hang out.
Come football season, that particularly loud group in the stands will be the Sigs cheering on brother Neilon.
For more Trojan football stories involving Sigma Chis:
The search for a new head football coach at USC isn't keeping Sigma Chi brother Brett Neilon from stardom