Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Is Davonte’ Neal worth it?

Davonte' Neal

Davonte' Neal didn't make a college decision Tuesday morning. Photo by Patrick Breen, The Arizona Republic

Some college is eventually going to get a signature on a letter-of-intent from Davonte’ Neal.

It wasn’t Tuesday morning, as everyone had expected, as Neal was a no-show for an event in which he had planned to announce his decision in front of media and about 600 school children at his former elementary school.

No doubt, Neal is a talented player, a cornerback, receiver and returner, and a two-time state Gatorade player of the year at Scottsdale Chaparral High School.

He is rated:

–No. 8 by ESPNU
–No. 53 by 247Sports
–No. 66 by MaxPreps.com
–No. 74 by Scout.com
–No. 107 by Rivals.com

But …

“At some point, if you’re recruiting this kid, you have to wonder if he’s worth the headache,” said JC Shurburtt, the national recruiting director for 247Sports.

“He’s not a top 10 kid. It’s not like some of these schools can’t get a Davonte’ Neal every year. He’s not a once-every-five-years guy. He’s not even a once-every-two-years guy. It’s not like this is Terrelle Pryor or Jadeveon Clowney,” he added, referring to two of the top-rated recruits in recent years.

“At some point, you just have to wonder if the prospect is worth the headache.”

Neal reportedly is caught between deciding on Arizona (allegedly his choice) and Notre Dame (supposedly his father’s choice.) Arkansas and North Carolina are his other finalists.

Speculation is that the rift is the reason for the no-show on Tuesday morning; no official explanation from the family was forthcoming.

But this latest drama is not an isolated case.

The Neals have welcomed their share of attention in recent months, and the decision to delay an announcement past Signing Day can be construed as a way to have the spotlight all to themselves. Neal is the top unsigned player in the country.

The Neal family developed a “headache” reputation among those who follow and report on recruiting for a living.

Tweeted national recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman of Scout.com: “This honestly is the least surprising thing I’ve seen this year. Having dealt with this family, would have been shocked if it was done right”

Said Shurburtt: “Honestly, I wasn’t surprised. One of our analysts when to a practice in November and sort of got an idea of what the situation was. If you had asked me, who is one kid who would go beyond Signing Day and be a media fiasco, I would have said Davonte’ Neal.

“And I would have said that for four or five months.”

So is he worth it?

If you’re Notre Dame, do you want to take a kid who apparently doesn’t want to go there?

The stakes are highest for Arizona, because Neal is an in-state recruit at a powerhouse high school that will be central to the Cats’ recruiting effort, inasmuch as Chaparral’s former coach, Charlie Ragle, is on Rich Rodriguez’s administrative staff.

And while Neal might be a once-a-year guy for some schools, Arizona perhaps hasn’t recruited such a highly-rated offensive player since Parade All-American running back Leo Mills in the 1998 class. Mills was rated the 38th-best player in the country by Super Prep.

Shurburtt said the Neal “seems to be a good kid … just a nice kid, not full of himself and everything” but added that he thought the recruiting process “has been mishandled from a media relations standpoint by the Neal family.”

Hard to argue that.

The handling of the recruiting process has done Davonte’ no favors. He will have higher expectations than perhaps warranted. He will be remembered for not showing up for his announcement while 600 school children waited on the floor.

His no-show was headline news on the front page of ESPN.com.

Wherever he goes, Neal will have to prove he’s not going to be a headache.

UPDATE: Neal returned to the elementary school on Tuesday afternoon and signed with Notre Dame.

Search site | Terms of service