The Arizona Wildcats’ pursuit of Scottsdale Chaparral High School’s Davonte’ Neal is being complicated by a couple of familiar names — Mike Stoops and Tim Kish.
Kish, the former defensive coordinator who took over as interim head coach at midseason when Stoops was fired, was hired last week as the linebackers coach at Oklahoma.
He is reunited with Stoops, who is the Sooners; new defensive coordinator, working for older brother, Bob Stoops.
Kish, known as an excellent recruiter and who worked in-state contacts for the past eight years, was able to get Oklahoma’s foot in the door with Neal, the two-time state Gatorade Player of the Year as a receiver/defensive back.
Neal has been scheduled to take his fifth and final recruiting visit to Arizona more than a week after the signing period begins Feb. 1.
But he might take that official (paid) trip to Oklahoma instead and take an unofficial visit to Arizona. He already has visited Notre Dame, Ohio State, Arkansas and North Carolina.
Dick Obert of the Arizona Republic, our Gannett partner, has the details from his blog Sunday:
Davonte’ Neal’s recruiting took a big turn last week when Oklahoma suddenly got in the picture and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer had an impressive in-home visit with the Arizona Republic’s top 2012 football recruit.
Oklahoma got in the door with the Scottsdale Chaparral receiver/cornerback a day after former University of Arizona recruiting coordinator Tim Kish got hired. According to Luke Neal, Davonte’s dad, Kish popped in Davonte’s junior highlight tape for coach Bob Stoops, who told him, ‘We can’t get this guy.’
Luke said that Kish told Stoops he knows the dad. Stoops asked if he could get Luke Neal on the phone that instant. The next day, Kish was on a plane and visiting with Luke Neal in Scottsdale. Stoops followed that the next day with a phone call to Luke Neal and Davonte’. Mike Stoops, the former UA head coach, and Kish both had lengthy phone conversations with Davonte.’
There is a possibility that Davonte could now make Oklahoma his final recruiting trip (Feb.9-11) and make UA an unofficial visit. Luke said it is something he will talk to Davonte’ with after Davonte’ returns from his recruiting trip to North Carolina.
Neal’s interest in North Carolina stems from his grandmother (on his mother’s side), who lives there. He is close to her.
Luke Neal called Urban Meyer’s visit “intense.” He said he tried to get a commitment from the Scottsdale Chaparral receiver/cornerback that night. It didn’t happen, but now, it appears, Ohio State is right up there with Notre Dame in the Neal recruiting sweepstakes.
“He said, ‘I came all the way here for you because there isn’t anybody else like you,’ ” Luke said Meyer told his son.
Neal said Meyer wants Davonte’ to play right away as a kick returner and slot receiver. He also said he would hold a scholarship for Davonte’ after Wednesday’s National Letter of Intent Day.
“He wanted to know if he was in the game,” Luke said. “He told him he was.”
Arizona State stopped recruiting Neal two weeks ago after Luke told an assistant coach that Davonte’ would not consider ASU if former Scottsdale Saguaro coach John Sanders was going to be part of ASU’s football operations.
Luke said he stopped hearing from ASU after that.
Luke Neal will have a big impact on where his son ends up, and academics are important. That leans to Notre Dame, which reportedly is No.1 among NCAA schools in graduation success rate among its football players.
Three Notre Dame assistant coaches, including the offensive coordinator, had an in-home visit Thursday, before UA assistants Tony Dews and Robert Anae visited Neal that evening. Neal took a red-eye flight to North Carolina that night.
Notre Dame sent a letter of intent to the Neals for Davonte’ to sign whenever he is ready, Luke said. Oklahoma left Luke a message Saturday morning, saying that a letter was being sent to Davonte’.
The two-time Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year is keeping himself open and will use much of this week to let all of the recruiting sink in. But it appears the top schools in the hunt for Neal are Notre Dame and Ohio State.
On Wednesday, ESPN will shadow Neal at his home and at school, according to Luke. ESPN will also report on Tempe Corona del Sol offensive tackle Andrus Peat’s college decision that day. Peat is not returning messages.
Neal, 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, a two-time Gatorade Arizona Football Player of the Year, has moved up to the No.1 athlete prospect in the country and No.8 overall in the latest ESPNU 150 rankings for class of 2012. Peat, 6-7, 305, is right behind at No.9 overall.