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Rich Rodriguez and staff convince one of state’s best to take official visit

This is about how Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez would feel if Davonte' Neal signs with the Wildcats. Photo by Pat Shanahan, The Arizona Republic

The recruitment of Scottsdale Chaparral athlete Davonte’ Neal apparently will go past the Feb. 1 signing day … and the Arizona Wildcats have a chance.

Dick Obert of the Arizona Republic — our Gannett partner in Phoenix — reported Wednesday afternoon that Neal agreed to take an official visit to Arizona on Feb. 11. Neal and his family met with new head coach Rich Rodriguez and two assistants on Wednesday.

Neal is rated the nation’s 53rd-best prospect by 247sports.com, is 74th by Scout.com and 107th by Rivals.com. He was selected a Parade All-American.

As of mid-December, Neal had ruled out Arizona and Arizona State, saying he would go out-of-state for college, but Rodriguez and his staff managed to get their foot in the door.

Neal has taken visits to Ohio State and Notre Dame. Trips to Arkansas and North Carolina are pending.

Here is the full story from the Republic:

Scottsdale Chaparral receiver/cornerback Davonte’ Neal said he will take a recruiting trip to the University of Arizona on Feb. 11, ten days after the National Signing Day.

This came after a two-hour meeting today with UA head coach Rich Rodriguez and assistants Robert Anae and Tony Dews.

The key to this meeting even taking place was Luke Neal’s relationship with Anae, whom Rodriguez kept from Mike Stoops’ staff at UA. They were coaches together at Ricks College in the 1990s, and Luke even went to Anae for advice on football recruiting with his son Davonte’.

Once Rodriguez got in the door, both Davonte’ and his dad said they were impressed by Rodriguez’ mild-mannered approach.

“He’s very charismatic,” Luke Neal said. “I was very reluctant to have a meeting with them but Robert being there…”

Davonte’ said the coaches didn’t talk about how UA would use him in Rodriguez’s system.

“We discussed the program, just to get to know more about the program,” Davonte’ said. “I”m taking an official visit Feb. 11. Beyond that, I don’t know.”

Neal, a two-time Gatorade Arizona Football Player of the Year who had more than 1,000 yards rushing and more than 1,000 receiving during a 14-1 championship senior season, will take an official visit to Arkansas this weekend. He said he doesn’t have a visit to Arizona State planned at this time. But he is expected to meet Monday with ASU coach Todd Graham after Neal’s return from Arkansas.

He was going to visit Miami, but now has decided to visit UA, instead.

“After meeting with the (UA) coaches, Davonte’ and I stepped outside and had a talk,” Luke said. “He decided to take his visit Feb. 11. He wants to do that. He wants to take that weekend after Jan. 27 to have a full week free to decide what schools he likes, and to give UA one opportunity, to go in one week later with eyes and ears open and see if this is the program. That was Davonte’s decision. That was very responsible.”

Luke said Rodriguez told his son, “I want you like everybody else. You’re the top guy we’re looking for. That’s why we’re here.”

Last week, UA offered Neal’s close friend and Chaparral teammate, All-Arizona linebacker Cody Ippolito, a scholarship. Neal has said that he wants to play college football with Ippolito.

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