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Irish still in the running for Davonte Neal

Feb 7, 2012, 10:01 PM EDT

Davonte Neal

If Signing Day ended on a dour note, that lull between Signing Day and spring football might be filled with one final pleasant surprise. The Irish haven’t given up on chasing the final recruit on their board, Arizona’s Davonte Neal. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Neal, who led Chaparral High to back-to-back state championships is still considering Notre Dame, and has eliminated two very big fish from the running.

According to Jason Sapp of, Neal is no longer considering Ohio State or Oklahoma. “Oklahoma came in too late and Ohio State isn’t a good fit,” Luke Neal told Sapp.

The breakup with the Buckeyes is something that’s been rumored since Signing Day, when various reports said Ohio State wasn’t willing to take Neal’s commitment because their recruiting class had filled up. The elder Neal refuted that statement, but regardless of the truth, it sounds like Urban Meyer won’t be getting his hands on the two-way star.

According to Sapp’s report, Neal is going to commit on February 21st, ending a recruitment that’s long been planned to go well past Signing Day, as Davonte didn’t want to start the recruiting process until his season was over. Notre Dame has been among the leaders for Neal since day one, when Kerry Cooks was the first recruiter in the Neal’s house, and Notre Dame also received Neal’s first official visit, when both father and son headed to South Bend on December 9th.

In many ways, signing Neal could be the perfect band-aid for the Irish recruiting class. If Neal plays as a wide receiver, he could fill the rather large hole that was left when Deontay Greenberry left Notre Dame standing by the fax machine. If Neal plays cornerback in college, he could fill the hole left by Ronald Darby, who chose Florida State, and Yuri Wright, whose social networking exploits are a lesson for high schoolers everywhere.

The Neal family met for a reported three-hours on Sunday to get down to a final list of schools. Here’s what Luke Neal told Sapp about the Irish:

“You can’t go wrong with a school like Notre Dame academically. They graduate 98-percent of the players and it’s an opportunity to play on national television every week. The alumni base is strong and there’s coaching stability there. He’d have the opportunity to play right away and he loved the visit.”



  1. jomilly - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    You said it perfectly great bandaid, he can play WR or CB. Keep our fingers crossed both positions could use a player of his caliber

  2. borromini - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:22 PM

    Neal would be a huge get. I wouldn’t consider it merely a band-aid…he would be a bona-fide home run that would be a beautiful final touch on this year’s class.

  3. ct111 - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:43 PM

    Won’t be a Michael Floyd type player, but hope he will be like a golden Tate type player

  4. captainspaulding22 - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    BK has to do everything possible to get this kid; no excuses. The team that worries me most is Arizona. The in-state factor coupled with RichRod’s offense could be very enticing.

  5. andy44teg - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    This guy is ranked #8 by ESPN…I would almost rather have this guy over Greenberry anyways! So it sounds like it’s either going to be Notre Dame or Arizona. BK or RichRod. Stability or the exact opposite. Be on TV every week or have your highlights barely shown on ESPN (and not untill 1 AM usually) And they sure as hell don’t teach you how to dance at Arizona, either. (See Gronkowski) Hmmmmm…tough one…in the immortal words of Garth Algar…NOT!!

    • nudeman - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      Yes, he would be great to get, but don’t the Irish already have about 23 guys who are ideal slot receiver types? Seems like everyone is 5’10” 180.

      • mtndguy - Feb 8, 2012 at 10:10 AM

        I agree with nude. 5’10” 180 in High School is fine, but in college he’d better be awfully fast to make up for his size.

      • andy44teg - Feb 8, 2012 at 10:12 AM

        Try 4 – Matthias Farley, TJ Jones, Theo Riddick (who will pry play RB this year) and Robby Toma

      • gtizzo - Feb 8, 2012 at 8:37 PM

        Forget receiver, there is a hole at corner and 5’10 180 is perfect. The is a bigger hole on kick return guy, he fits there also. Say no to receiver and yes to better secondary. Defense wins titles unless you play in the NFL.

  6. nudeman - Feb 8, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    And KeiVaere Russell who is 6’0 170lbs. Sort of another “slot” type.

    Hey, I’d love to get Neal. And whether they get him or not, if all they have is shorter WRs, so be it. If they’re good – REALLY good – that will be cool. But this is why Greenberry was – ON PAPER – so important. 6’3″.

    HAVING SAID THAT … ND is better off without DG. I’ve read enough comments from those who’ve seen him play that I’m convinced he lacks heart. When he chose Houston (I guess Creighton was full up at WR) that was all I needed to know to confirm my feelings.

    BTW, last point, Daniel Smith is 6’4″ so if he or Daniels (6’2″) take a step forward this year, that will solve the size issue at WR.

    • ct111 - Feb 8, 2012 at 12:31 PM

      Don’t forget about Luke Massa, I heard he was a stud

      • schuey73 - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:44 PM

        Michael Floyd himself has said that Daniel Smith has a chance to be a big time receiver. Did he play at all this past season, or did he preserve a year of eligibility? I know he played a lot on special teams his Freshman year.

      • captainspaulding22 - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:19 PM

        Haha, good one!! If this were the SEC, Luke Massa would have been forced out this off-season.

      • ct111 - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:08 PM

        Luke Massa would probably be Gray Shirted for 4 years

      • ealiptrap - Feb 9, 2012 at 4:47 AM

        I actually caught a couple practices last spring and you would never have guessed Massa was a converted QB … obviously the kid still has a lot to learn … but I’m guessin’ he’d surprise the people who have pretty much written him off. Not saying he’s the next Michael Floyd … but I’m guessin’ he’ll find himself a spot in the rotation sooner rather than later.

  7. tony34343434 - Feb 8, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    with the Spread offense he would be perfect! Look what Percy Harvin did for Florida, he would fill a similar role, as many have mentioned before, he sounds like an outstanding student too which is another huge part of being a Domer, he would be a great fit and it would be great for him playing on National T.V. every week and getting a degree from one of the best schools in the country, GO IRISH!

    • nudeman - Feb 8, 2012 at 12:31 PM

      How often do you see UA games on national TV?

      And even though everyone bangs on life in South Bend, ever been to Tucson?
      We’re not exactly talking of a “Paris In The Desert”.

      Seems to me that ND vs. UA is like a Mercedes vs. Plymouth

      • bb90grad - Feb 8, 2012 at 12:58 PM

        Nude, you’ve noted several times the past few weeks you see him going to UA. Are you now softening on that stance? Not trying to lock you in, just wondering…BTW most of your other proclamations have actually been pretty accurate.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:40 PM

        If we’re comparing climate, then I’d say ND would be more like a stripped-down, used Mercedes (Overall, still way better than any Plymouth).

      • nudeman - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:52 PM

        I have a friend who I see at the gym whose son plays with Davonte at Chapparal. They know Davonte; they know the father and the family, so I considered that a pretty decent source. She told me about 3 weeks ago that ND was “no way” despite the Dad loving ND.

        SINCE THEN:
        1) tOSU has dropped out, or Neal has dropped them, depending on who you believe.
        2) The Neals have reportedly dropped OK from consideration
        3) John Sanders, controversial HS coach might go to ASU. If so Neal has apparently said he won’t go there. I don’t know the latest; but am pretty sure he has NOT been hired (yet?)

        So things are MORE optimistic for ND than previously, given these developments, and it seems to be down to ND vs ASU, but it’s hard to conclude based on what I know that ND is in the lead.
        I know nothing more than what I’ve put here and haven’t run into my friend lately. If I had to guess, I’d say it is floating around the 50/50 area, whereas 3 weeks ago I’d have said 30/70.

        I’ve never seen the kid play; but 2 time AZ Player of the Year says a LOT. Kid belongs in gold and blue on national TV every week.

      • nudeman - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:54 PM

        Sorry, meant to say “it seems to be down to ND vs UA”

        Not ASU

        Though they still might be in it

      • 1historian - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:14 PM

        If that Plymouth is named Cristine – “Houston, we have a problem!”

      • bb90grad - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:35 PM

        Nude, thanks for the update. I’ve seen NC and Arkansas on the list and they must be the other two. Don’t want to pay for Blue and Gold access so just guessing here.

      • 1hoss - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:08 PM

        Nude, for what it’s worth, I spoke with one of Kiel’s teammates last summer, and the kid told me Gunner “hated” ND, and there was no way he would ever play there. Just sayin’.

      • nudeman - Feb 9, 2012 at 10:24 AM

        I don’t think he’s coming to ND.
        No new insight or conversation with my friend. If that changes, I’ll post it.

        This has all the earmarks of the type of recruiting battles ND regularly finishes 2nd

        1) Great, highlyn recruited player
        2) ND is a LONG way from home
        3) No one else from his school or area is already there or going there this class
        4) Kid “likes” ND
        5) Parents “LOVE” ND
        6) Being recruited hard by in state university where he can play with friends

        Just feels like another one where it’s
        “Hey, I liked ND; but gotta’ play with my bros at (insert name of in-state university)”

        Not feeling it with Davonte
        Hope I’m wrong

  8. guknights75 - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Just in case anyone didn’t see this.

    Notre Dame is up next. I apologize to anyone who felt I insulted them with my comments defending Yuri a few weeks back, but this article pretty much sums up my feelings on the subject.

    Prayers go out to the Neal family……..

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:51 PM

      just looked at the linked article, it’s kindof a bitch thing to do…go take the twitter feeds of hundreds of top recruits and post them according to what university they will attend.

      The author has a good point, it’s a wide spread “problem”, but the difference between all of the kids that he is report about and Yuri Wright is that Yuri got expelled from school. None of these other kids did. If Yuri wouldn’t have been kicked out, his twitter wouldn’t have been an issue.

      It is pretty sad that these kids are so detached from the consequences of their actions.

    • nudeman - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:06 PM

      I don’t remember what you wrote, but if you defended Yuri I was in agreement.
      ND gagged on this one and didn’t want the heat that would have come with taking him.

      As I wrote a couple weeks back, there was a way to take him and save face:
      Public (and sincere) apology, counseling, ban on him using social media, maybe some comm. service at a battered women’s shelter.

      Two of the most important tenets of Catholicism are forgiveness and redemption. He broke no laws, most of the stuff he tweeted were song lyrics, and like it or not, black teens talk this way. It’s not my style or from my generation, nor am I black, so TTFWIW. I’ve also read in multiple places that he’s a relatively shy and polite kid. Never in trouble.

      Maybe there’s more to the story. But if he was qualified academically, and if he would have been willing to accept some conditions like I’ve stated, they should have admitted him.

      • bernhtp - Feb 9, 2012 at 10:24 AM

        Nude, I generally agree with you, but there was way too little time between the time this story broke and NSD to create a plausible plan for contrition, forgiveness and redemption. Yuri simply made himself too toxic.

        My other belief (unless there is material information I don’t know) is that Don Bosco Prep dropped the ball here. The penance and path to redemption you outline should have been started/performed there instead of expulsion (again assuming this was the extent of his material misconduct). Had DBP done this instead of expelling him, Yuri would have had a chance at keeping his major offers, including Notre Dame. The colleges could have extended his program to their environment so that he was kept on the straight and narrow. His continued scholarship and team membership would have been made conditional upon strictly following the program (ala Michael Floyd).

      • nudeman - Feb 9, 2012 at 10:29 AM

        Fair enough bern
        I heard he was warned about the tweets a few times by DBP but continued.
        That shows really bad judgment.

        I never did hear a word from the kid as to whether he was contrite about the tweets or defiant. Maybe his silence says it all.

        Whatever. He ain’t coming to ND.
        Water under the bridge at this point.

    • schuey73 - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:11 PM

      Great find. I believe this does make Michigan look VERY hypocritical. I would consider AJ Williams’ tweets to be just as bad, if not worse than the ones the first article showed from Yuri Wright.

      There is definitely a need for education on this matter for these young men, no matter who is recruiting them.

      • idratherbeinsouthbend - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:54 PM


        did you notice that the michigan post was just the first of several to come. He’s throwing the Irish, Buckeyes, Bama, and other under the bus in coming articles. He’s already titled the article for the irish “Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly HUMILIATED by his players! Must see!”

      • schuey73 - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:19 PM


        I did not click on that link since the date said Feb. 14th. I am concerned what will be posted. Did we stop recruiting Yuri because he was expelled, or because of the tweets. If it’s because of the tweets, and some of our other recruits have posted things as bad, then I believe that makes us hypocritical as well.

        During Brian Kelly’s press conference on NSD, he was asked what, if any, changes he will make with the recruiting process going forward. He did specifically mention social media would be more of a focus for the staff in recruiting. I gotta believe our recruits will get some kind of social media education, because they are now representing ND.

        Whether it was fair or not for the author to write this story, I don’t know, but he got his information from a public place. Honestly, I was a little stunned at some of the things the UM recruits said.

    • runners00 - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:15 PM

      Interesting topic — social media and its impact on the college athlete.

      I will say this: One of the issues with Wright was that his twitter account was widely read (i.e. 2,000 followers). I’m not defending these kids, but if you are talking to twenty or fifty of your friends on twitter it’s quite a bit different than talking to 2,000. We’ve all said things we regret and that we’d take back. But my understanding with Wright was that his account was widely read.

  9. heartofgoldandblue - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    Has anyone heard if Davonte has a preference to play on offense over defense. This guy has been referred to as a lockdown corner and all everyone is talking about is that we have enough short slot receivers.
    One: Even being on the shorter side, his athleticism is close to if not in the elite category. All those guys have their own strengths but I think its safe to say none of them possess the same “Homerun threat” that Davonte does.
    Two: We all keep talking about how the biggest “dent” in our recruiting class is only signing one corner. This kid could come in and compete right away alongside Tee. Yor’re then looking at a very exciting duo on the outside. Tell me that’s not an intriguing….

  10. jerseyshorendfan1 - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    Since Yuri and the issue of Tweeting is back in the news, let me roll out my new song “Tweetin’ D Back” which is sung to the tune of “Rockin’ Robin”:

    He tweets on his smartphone,
    All day long.
    Hoppin’ and boppin’ to those Li’l Wayne songs.
    All the little groupies on recruitnik street,
    Wince a bit when Yuri goes Tweet, Tweet, Tweet.

    Tweetin’ D Back
    Tweet, Twiddley tweet
    Tweetin’ D Back
    Tweet, Twiddley tweet
    Oh, Tweetin’ D Back say we’re really gonna tweet tonight.

    When a couple big programs said, “No,no.”
    He went off and became a Buffalo.
    When Hoke and Kelly said, “Nix, nix”
    He was rumored to have tweeted, “Y’all can s#ck my d@#k.”

    He tweets on his smartphone,
    All day long.
    Hoppin’ and boppin’ to those Li’l Wayne songs.
    All the little groupies on recruitnik street,
    Wince a bit when Yuri goes Tweet, Tweet, Tweet.

    • nudeman - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:09 PM

      too much time on your hands, dogg

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:19 PM

        yeah I know.

    • schuey73 - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:00 PM

      I’ll admit it. I laughed.

    • runners00 - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:41 PM

      love it. I’m old. It’s entertaining

  11. pdcooper08 - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    Seems like this kids dad really understands the recruiting process. He waits a week after the signing date and uses the time to evaluate the schools recruiting his son. Then he narrows his choices to the one that he thinks will best fit the player. Good job!

    To bad more kids didn’t use patience when searching out the schools that best fits them. I bet there would be less transferring going on.

    • andy44teg - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:21 PM

      I thought it was pretty smart..this way they get to see who REALLY wants him by keeping a scholarship open. Look at Ohio State. Urban told him they couldn’t recruit him anymore b/c they didn’t have any left. That tells him right there that OSU didn’t think he was THAT important.

  12. gpatton90 - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Yuri’s case is different from the others in that his comments were made public. I doubt that any high schools or colleges spend any time checking their student’s Twitter accounts, although they may have formal policies restricting use. They know what they would find. The problems occur when these comments are made public. That leaves the institutions with no choice but to act. That risk is taken by student athletes and non-student athletes alike. Just becasue lots of kids do this doesn’t excuse the behavior and doesn’t mean that everyone has to overlook it or give them a pass. And ND shouldn’t have told Yuri to start with a public apology. He should have done that on his own (I mentioned before that I do feel for these kids who are obviously not getting any parental guidance).

    As for the author of the article, the guy is a complete and utter jerk. While within his right to display the information, he obviously his no moral character to speak of.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:45 PM


      Well said. I agree with every single word.

    • bb90grad - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:42 PM

      Agree too. Doubt this “scathing expose” will win him a Pulitzer. I don’t plan on checking back so as not to feed the beast.

  13. ct111 - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    Can we just talk about Davonte Neal instead of some random guy’s article about social media? Kids are kids, I’m sure we said or done stuff people weren’t proud of when we were younger.

  14. gtizzo - Feb 8, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    The Yuri Wright move was the right one to have one problem child when you get there (Michael Floyd) is different from recruiting another in Wright. BK was right to step away especially when Michigan already did.

  15. ndirish86 - Feb 9, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    One last thing on this Yuri Wright tangent. I gag every time I read someone refer to him tweeting “song lyrics” as if that somehow justifies it. So, he didn’t make the stuff up from scratch – so what. He was making the thoughts his own, using them to express something he wanted to say. What he expressed, and the lack of contrition / retraction that followed, showed him to be a WKG. Done. No one’s damning him to hell, saying he’ll never amount to anything in life, taking a moralistic stand that’s hyprocritical because all the other recruits aren’t perfect, etc etc. Just making a judgement that he’s not a good fit. The coaches get paid to do exactly this. We don’t have the info that they do, but it looks like a reasonable decision from here.

  16. papadec - Feb 12, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    Regarding Davonte – does anyone (nudeman especially, since he lives nearby) know where Davonte’s mother wants him to go? He’s making his announcement on her birthday – FEB 21st. That seems to be a big clue, to me.

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