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Report: Davonte Neal set to transfer

Mar 27, 2013, 12:18 AM EDT

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Michigan State

The second highly touted member of the 2012 recruiting class is leaving the Fighting Irish football team. Wide receiver Davonte Neal, who spent his freshman season as the team’s primary punt returner and was expected to play a significant role in the Irish offense in 2013, is leaving school.

Jason Sapp of Blue and Gold Illustrated first reported the news. Neal joins quarterback Gunner Kiel as rising sophomores that have departed this spring. It marks the second year in a row that a highly touted young player has left during spring workouts, with Aaron Lynch doing so last year after he wanted to be closer to his girlfriend and family at home.

After talking to Neal’s father Luke, Sapp reports that the slot receiver’s decision to leave Notre Dame wasn’t unhappiness with his role in the program, but rather a six week old daughter at home.

This from Sapp’s report ($):

“The reason for Davonte’s transfer is that he’s the father of a six-week old baby girl (Baylee) with his girlfriend (Marie Burton) that he has dated since seventh grade,” said Luke Neal, Davonte’s father, of his granddaughter that was born on Feb. 2. “The plan was to move his girlfriend and his baby to South Bend, but Davonte’ just felt the need to be closer to his family and his girlfriend’s family at this time.

“It’s a situation that I’ve been talking to Davonte’ about the past four months, and he’s finally realized he wants to be involved in his daughter’s life closer than from a distance at Notre Dame.”

With Neal gone and Amir Carlisle likely out for the spring, the Irish are short at the inside receiver position. They could move veteran TJ Jones back into the slot or give young players like Chris Brown or early enrollee James Onwualu a shot as well. There’s also a chance a player like Cam McDaniel gets some time there as well, while incoming freshman Torii Hunter Jr. and Will Fuller will be options in the fall. Daniel Smith has also worked in the slot, more as a productive blocker than traditional Z receiver.

The slot receiver position in Brian Kelly’s offense hasn’t had the type of productivity many expected the past three seasons, and mostly it’s because of a lack of personnel. The loss of Neal and Carlisle’s current lack of injury luck certainly continues that trend.

Neal will likely end up at a Pac-12 school that’s closer to his Arizona home and new child.

  1. danirish - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    What is up with all the trolls on here? Suddenly they know how to coach and recruit better than Kelly. Other programs have transfers; other programs have kids leave for a variety of reasons.

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. I figured if any slots/WR bolted it would be him. If you remember he and Gunner Kiel had a wishy-washy recruitment and they were “not normal.” I wish both good luck and hope to see Neal do well with wherever he ends up as long as it’s not against the Irish (ala Zach Fraser/U Conn)

    The transfers are coming from the obvious places – WR & QB – heavy competition there.

    Now someone help me – does Kiel, because he sat last year – what does he lose eligibility wise?
    Neal, since he played can only play two years now that he has to sit out – correct?

    • 25kgold - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:52 PM

      Neal-Will-Appeal, and probably end up playing this year. Kiel/Ferguson, maybe not…

    • papadec - Mar 27, 2013 at 7:46 PM

      dan – what difference does how much eligibility any of them have left, make? It won’t be at ND.

    • tsombanj - Mar 27, 2013 at 10:19 PM

      Dan – relax. This is a forum for people to express themselves and share opinions. If you don’t like it then just read Kelly’s comments on

  2. paulhargis53 - Mar 27, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    Irish4006; that made no sense.
    But leave it to you to like something long and hard and full of se(a)men….

    • irish4006 - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:50 PM

      It’s okay, Paul. You will probably get it at some point next week. In case you don’t, feel free to browse below…


      There are rats that leave a sinking ship and there are rats that like to make themselves at home where they don’t belong, in nice, upscale places. To me, both are just rats. I don’t think the latter kind becomes any less of a rat, just because they start posting on ND boards.

  3. rdeal23 - Mar 27, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    I really didn’t care or was surprised when gunner left with golson the starter the next 3 years and Malik right behind him but this one really hurt. This kid was a the playmaker of the future. I was thrilled when he committed but very skeptical after that assembly episode. Haven’t felt this bad since lynch left but he is a dbag. Some of these young receivers better step up now!

  4. 4horsemenrideagain - Mar 28, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    Just means more touches for Luke massa. Don’t sleep on him.

  5. paulhargis53 - Mar 29, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    nice, upscale places huh? lime the Catholic church? Where housing and covering up child molestation by preists has been happening for years?!

    You ND backers think you’re so much better than everyone else, for no discernable reason that I can see.


    • dillonbigred - Mar 30, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      I think most ND most are reasonable and objective. Yes, we do love the University because it is a great institution and family, although with many human flaws. But yes, we are much better than the likes of sad, pathetic little trolls such as you who sit behind the anonymity of a computer screen and spew venom against a whole religion, a university, football team, and fans because of whatever personnal issues. I pray you get some help and God Bless You.

  6. irishfootball55 - Mar 31, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    Get help Paul that is the most broad based idiotic statement I have ever heard. Number one this is football chat and the Irish are most definitely on their way back to prominence. Name your team and lets talk football. However you show your true lack of character when you attack priests and the Catholics when your idiotic mouth opens. Just a fact most practicing Catholics are sickened by any abuse that has happened in the church. But this is not the forum for religious discussions. So go back to Penn State and keep making excuses for Joe Pa who let abuse run ramped for years.

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