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Former LSU player Lewis Neal starts his own financial investment firm

Day trading and being an entrepreneur have him preparing for life after football

Lots of college football players aspire to take their talents to the next level, with very few aspirations beyond the football field. But for former LSU defensive end Lewis Neal, developing a Plan B was top priority. He is a projected early-round pick in the NFL draft, so he has options.

Neal, a 6-foot-2, 272-pound lineman who amassed 118 tackles and 12 sacks in four seasons at LSU, announced via Twitter on Dec. 12 that he will be the owner of a financial investment firm handling foreign exchange and cumulative translation adjustment (a process used to balance and account for currency gain/loss fluctuations). Four days later, Neal earned his degree in sports management.

Even more impressive is the fact that Neal has accomplished all this at age 21.

“I’ve always been a business-minded person,” Neal told Campus Sports in May. “I’ve always wanted to take care of my family and just be straight and be in control of my earnings and my living. That’s the reason I started looking into investing. Being young, I wanted to learn how to make a lot of money on my own so I didn’t have to worry about anyone determining how much I make. That’s when I started looking into finding a way to make extra income, because everyone has that dream.”

Lewis Neal #92 of the LSU Tigers defends during a game at Tiger Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Lewis Neal #92 of the LSU Tigers defends during a game at Tiger Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 African-Americans made up only 10 percent of the finance and insurance workforce. The percentage decreased to 6.2 with funds, trusts and other financial investments. Neal’s firm, Foreign Exchange CTA, will do investing and consulting in currency markets.

Neal’s curiosity about investing began his senior year of high school, but it wasn’t until his sophomore year at LSU that he began taking trading seriously and learned that his hobby could be turned into much more.

“I just got into investing because it was a way to help me out and show me a different view on life. And with football, you’ve always got to have a stream of income, because you need a long-term income if you want to live how you want to live. Investing is just one way, you know,” Neal said. “There are so many other ways that I’ve got in the works right now, so this is just the beginning.”

The investment firm is one of many ventures Neal has dabbled in during his collegiate career. Day-trading on the Foreign Exchange (Forex) market — the world’s largest exchange market that sometimes sees a daily turnover of $4 trillion — allowed Neal to earn enough money to become the co-owner of the Hair Factory salon in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Neal and a friend also developed a smartphone app for students.

“I’ve always had that mindset as an entrepreneur and I feel that should be taught more,” Neal said. “It’s a great thing to have. There are so many people that have great ideas but never go through since they don’t know how to. I feel like that is very important.”

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.