Last call: Which school is looking good to land Davonte’ Neal?by Anthony Gimino on Feb. 20, 2012, under Arizona football, Arizona football recruiting
It’s been fun.
The extended recruitment of Scottsdale Chaparral star receiver/defensive back Davonte’ Neal has kept four fan bases buzzing for almost three weeks after Signing Day.
If I may speak for everyone else, I think we’re ready for it to be over.
Will it be Notre Dame, Arizona, Arkansas or North Carolina?
Neal reportedly made his decision last week but will announce it to everyone Tuesday morning at about 9:30 a.m. from his old elementary school. FoxSportsArizona.com will have live internet coverage beginning at 9 a.m.
Neal has had most of the post-Signing Day spotlight to himself. He’s the nation’s top unsigned prospect. He is rated as the eighth-best prospect in the nation by ESPNU.
Dick Obert of the Arizona Republic — our Gannett partner — has been all over the Neal saga, offering frequent comments from Neal’s father, Luke Neal, who has been the point man for all information about his son’s recruitment.
Obert’s predictions have been all over the map, too.
Hey, it’s been a fluid situation.
As of last week, there were signs — and by signs, we’re talking about hints from Luke — that family reasons could keep Davonte’ close to home. Obert wrote that “UA has the best shot.” A couple of days earlier, he had opined that Notre Dame and Arkansas were the leaders.
Today, he’s not so bullish on the Wildcats’ chances.
One way or another, the wait is almost over.
Here is Obert’s blog post from Monday:
Scottsdale Chaparral senior receiver/defensive back Davonte’ Neal will finally disclose which college he will sign with tomorrow morning at Kyrene de la Esperanza Elementary School, where a pep band will play during a pre-signing assembly.
Neal will choose among Arizona, Arkansas, North Carolina and Notre Dame.
Let’s break it down:
ARIZONA: Two Chaparral players — linebacker Cody Ippolito and defensive end Dylan Cozens — signed there. His Chaparral coach, Charlie Ragle, is now part of Rich Rodriguez’s staff. And family is important to Neal, who is close to both his mom and dad. A week ago, I was convinced it was UA, because of the family clues I was receiving from his father Luke. But UA’s recruiting class isn’t stacked with four- and five-star players. The Wildcats are thin at quarterback. And even though Rodriguez’s spread offense would look like a perfect fit for Neal and his speed and moves, he wants to be surrounded by great talent. He wants to play in major bowls.
Conclusion: Cross out UA.
ARKANSAS: This is like Notre Dame Light. The talent pool is deep. The Razorbacks are probably closer to a major bowl than Notre Dame. But there isn’t the academic pressures and as much national exposure that there is at Notre Dame, which graduates almost all of its players. It would not be surprising if Neal picks Arkansas, based on its offense and a chance for him to be a key figure, much the way the way another No.3, Joe Adams, was in Fayetteville.
Conclusion: A good shot.
NORTH CAROLINA — Neal’s grandmother lives there, so there is already built-in support system. New coach Larry Fedora would take full advantage of Neal’s talents. He would likely start the first game next season at slot receiver. But North Carolina faces NCAA sanctions. The Tar Heels pulled in North Carolina’s best quarterback, James Summers, late. A Neal sign would give Fedora five receivers in his first recruiting class.
Conclusion: Long shot at best.
NOTRE DAME: This was the only school in which Luke Neal accompanied his son. The tradition is second to none. The electric current felt walking into the stadium is something Neal probably wouldn’t experience anywhere else. The Irish signed five-star quarterback Gunner Kiel, who is already enrolled. Neal could start the season returning kicks and probably figure in at receiver if not at cornerback. Neal is open to playing any position. He would be surrounded by top talent. Brian Kelly’s offense is tailor-made for Neal. It’s important to Luke that his son graduates, and Notre Dame’s 97-percent graduation success rate is the best there is.
Luke has been good at throwing people off day to day with clues, but I think at the end of the day, after this recruiting circus ends, Neal will chose Notre Dame.