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Davonte Neal transferring to Arizona

Apr 10, 2013, 11:08 AM EDT

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Michigan State

After deciding to walk away from Notre Dame to be closer to his girlfriend and newborn daughter, Davonte Neal will play next season for Rich Rodriguez and Arizona. The 5-foot-9 slot receiver was down to the Irish and Wildcats before dramatically choosing Notre Dame in a whirlwind recruiting process. Now he’ll come home and add an intriguing piece to the former Michigan coach’s spread offense.

As he has been from the start, Jason Sapp of has been all over this story, getting quotes from Neal on the decision-making process. While some rumors had Neal looking at UCLA or USC, the transfer back home should assist his case in securing immediate eligibility from the NCAA.

This from Sapp, who spoke with Neal directly:

“The primary reason I chose Arizona was because it was close to my family and my daughter can come see me everyday – that was the most important to me and having that family support,” Neal said. “The way Coach Rodriguez throws the ball around is amazing. They do it the entire game. I’ll have an opportunity to play inside and outside receiver in the offense. He does know how to get the ball in his players’ hands and from there they make plays.”

Neal has always been focused as an individual, but the addition to his family presents a whole new meaning to his world – both present and future.

“Having Baylee in my life just opens the door for me to be a better man,” he said. “It allows me to develop more responsibilities. I’ll become more of a man balancing school, football and having a baby.”

Neal was the two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in Arizona. He’ll reunite with his Chaparral high school coach, Charlie Ragle, who is now coaching tight ends for Rodriguez.

In a pretty class move, the Neal family released this statement through Blue & Gold:

We’d like to offer our sincerest gratitude to Coach Brian Kelly, his staff, the student body, and the entire Notre Dame family for all the support they’ve shown us, not only in the past few weeks, but over the past year.

Our experience as part of the Notre Dame football team and community surpassed all of our expectations. From the opening game in Dublin, Ireland, against Navy to the National Championship, we know we were part of something very special. And we have all the confidence in the world that the Notre Dame football program is positioned to have tremendous success in the years to come.

We wish we could be a part of that moving forward, however, Davonte’ has decided after very difficult consideration that the most important thing for him and our family is to be as close to his new-born daughter as possible.

Over the past year, we have developed some great friendships within the Notre Dame community and look forward to staying in-touch with those who have given us so much. We want to take this opportunity to wish Coach Kelly and his outstanding program all the best next season and down-the-road. The Irish will forever be in our hearts and a part of our lives.

All the best and Go Irish!


  1. andy44teg - Apr 10, 2013 at 11:17 AM


  2. nudeman - Apr 10, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    “After deciding to walk away from Notre Dame …”


    • bernhtp - Apr 10, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      Pretty much. Davonte never really wanted to go to Notre Dame and be away from home, family, girlfriend and buddies. He went to Notre Dame at the urging/insistence of his father. From what I hear, he actually worked really hard academically and did better than expected, so this doesn’t seem to be a factor other than maybe not wanting to work nearly that hard.

      While most such public explanations and rumors don’t pass the sniff test, let alone having much connection with reality, this one strikes me as pretty close to being real. I wish him well.

      • nudeman - Apr 10, 2013 at 12:18 PM

        You’re always the adult in the room and are to be commended for that. That would be unlike me; a reformed bomb thrower but still a bomb thrower at heart.

        You also seem to have some hooks into the ND community, so I’ll defer to you on this. Having said that, I still find the “deciding to walk away” thing hard to believe.

      • bernhtp - Apr 10, 2013 at 1:16 PM

        Nude, thanks. Note that I never talk about the really juicy stuff I know and am pretty much left analyzing, speculating and pontificating with the rest of everyone here, albeit from a richer context.

        While the specific weighting of reasons for leaving are not completely known, I think it’s pretty clear that Davonte wasn’t pushed out. Everyone at ND wanted him to stay. In contrast, Ferguson, like Kiel, was a competitive depth chart casualty.

        For those that thought USC was a possibility, I would be absolutely stunned if Kelly ever gave a release for a transfer there. In fact, if this happened, I would assume that this could only be part of a deal to keep secret a heinous crime and I would be asking about the dead hooker.

      • nudeman - Apr 10, 2013 at 1:47 PM

        So bern, now that it’s ancient history, maybe you’d be willing to spill what you might know on the Dayne Crist situation from 2011.

        Many never understood BK’s quick hook, and later in the year there were rumors of a Charlie Weis visit to town on a Florida bye week, where he got together with a few of the ex players including Dayne, and it turned into a BK bashing bitch fest. That supposedly was the backdrop to the infamous “my guys” comment. Any light to shed there?

        Re: Dayne, at the time I believed there absolutely HAD to be more to the story. But after watching him perform so poorly at KU, maybe it was as simple as BK just didn’t think he was any good.

        Come on man … statute of limitations is up. Tell us what really went down.

        • bernhtp - Apr 10, 2013 at 2:56 PM

          Nothing juicy here. Impeccable pedigree, great physical tools and occasional flashes of brilliance, but ultimately disappoints in sometimes bizarre ways when you most need him to step up. I don’t think there is anything behind the scenes at ND that wasn’t openly on display in Kansas.

          We all believed there had to be much more to the story, but I don’t think there ever was.

      • dickasman - Apr 10, 2013 at 3:15 PM

        Awwwwww group semi gay e- hugs guys, I like both of you’s. do we have room for fnc1111 in here? Bern, did you call me? I saw hooker in here somewhere maybe thought you needed help. Are you ok?

      • bernhtp - Apr 10, 2013 at 5:27 PM

        Dick: I’ll pass the word along that if he ever needs to deal with a dead hooker, he should call you before resorting to releasing a transfer to USC. Good to know we have a viable Plan B.

    • mtflsmitty - Apr 10, 2013 at 11:44 PM

      Nude, It’s gotta chap your hiney that as it turned out there was no smoke screen afterall. Just a kid trying to do the right thing. It’s kind of like that new Coke commercial encouraging us to see the world through a slightly less jaded point of view.

      “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony…”
      One of the all time great jingles.

      • nudeman - Apr 10, 2013 at 11:55 PM

        I’m sorry … must have missed the official forensic examination results. Was there an announcement?

        If you’re still buying the “he left to be with his daughter” BS … you go, girl.

      • irishpuma - Apr 10, 2013 at 11:58 PM

        smitty follow the thread….harmony….if you are using a coke reference after the above posts it needs to be in regard to snorting it off of a hookers backside….just sayin…..settle down dickasman….nude and bern glad you guys finally went public.

      • mtflsmitty - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:16 AM

        puma, i hear ya. just teasing nude a bit based on his smoke screen rants in previous weeks. and one of the things i like about nude, and whats to be liked about many of us who grew up in large Catholic families, is he’s got thick skin. He gives as well as he gets.

      • nudeman - Apr 11, 2013 at 10:45 AM

        I give/I get/I dunno

        Like Seve: “I miss, I miss, I miss, I make”
        Eventually the ball goes in the hole

  3. northerndomer20 - Apr 10, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Classy in my books….all the best kid

    • nudeman - Apr 10, 2013 at 9:22 PM

      Classy: Who? Neal?
      Come on ……….

      I don’t want to pile on the kid but “classy” is not an adjective I’d ascribe to Davonte Neal.

      Hope he breaks it open at UA and gets his life together.

  4. canadianndfan - Apr 10, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    As much as it sucks he left I do respect him putting his daughter first. People can speculate whether he really wanted to be at ND in the first place or not but at least he is going to a school that is legit “close to home” and not pulling a fast one by going to U$C

    • tedlinko - Apr 10, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      Well as bern points out (above) it’s highly unlikely that BK would have allowed him to transfer to either of those (certainly not SC) and ND has to approve the transfer. Plus, as KA noted, his stated reason for seeking the transfer is to be near his daughter, and if he wants the NCAA to waive the requirement that he sit out next year, he needs to convince them that that is actually true. Leaving aside, of course, the fact that it just might be.

      I’ve got a good friend who’s son just became a dad at age 19 and it’s tough. Having family support is important at a time like that. I respect the kid for making his daughter the priority.

      • tedlinko - Apr 10, 2013 at 3:45 PM

        one correction. My “either of those” comment was a reference to USC or UCLA which was actually a reference to a comment elsewhere on this board. My bad…

  5. ndrocks2 - Apr 10, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    Any announcements about “Daddy Drama” getting any deals from Arizona for his personal training business?

    Rich Rod will get this kid the ball and he will get his chance. Will be interesting to see how it turns out.

  6. dudeacow - Apr 10, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Best of luck, Neal. I was not excited for you to leave, but it’s just a game after all. Now let’s see you do awesome in the AZ offense.

  7. jerseyshorendfan1 - Apr 10, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    Apparently there is an assembly scheduled at the local grammar school where he will announce his planned transfer. I understand the kids are assembled and they’re just waiting for Davonte to arrive. Wait, a car is pulling up now. Is that him? Davonte? Davonte? Hahahaha good luck kid.

  8. fnc111 - Apr 10, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    Go Davonte! It’s going to be fun watching him finally get a chance to show his skill set off. Arizona is the perfect fit for him football wise but I’m still a little surprised he didn’t go with UCLA or USC considering how great those college degrees would be.

    • andy44teg - Apr 10, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      You really don’t think BK would’ve found some way to get one of the fastest, most athletic guys on the field the ball? It seems to me that the last couple of years he’s made that a priority i.e. Floyd and Eifert. But what do I know..he pry would’ve let one of the most offensively talented players ND had just languish away @ the Z and have a Robbie Toma type year, and have him transfer next year…yeah..that’s pry what would’ve happened if Neal stuck around.

    • dickasman - Apr 10, 2013 at 3:24 PM

      Education is very important. always should be the foreskin, i mean foremost reason for choosing the right school. I’d say that u of A has probably one of the top notch sex education program in the entire country, right up there with asu, USC, ucla, fsu.

  9. dickasman - Apr 10, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    “We don’t need no edumacation….we don’t need no thoughts controlled…” This transfer has been asman approved. He’s grown from being democrat to republican. One less kid my tax money has to support. Congrats and good luck to him.

  10. 25kgold - Apr 10, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    It’s official, Gunner Kiel to Cincinnati.

  11. seanb20124 - Apr 10, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    He can’t go to Arizona until summer session I would guess since he leaves ND before the end of the semester.

  12. letsgopens8771 - Apr 10, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    Good. Won’t miss him. Ineffective with punt returns, but in his defense, he just didn’t fit in to the system because we had so many other talented receivers on the roster. I’m sure we can find someone else, someone better to return punts. Best of luck, Davonte.

    • c4evr - Apr 10, 2013 at 11:49 PM

      Wait, we have a punt return team? Oh, you mean the fair catch team.

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