Editor's note: This
is the 11th in a series of 20 leading up to National Signing Day that
features Top 100 football recruits who have yet to announce their
college plans. We're breaking down their finalists and predicting where
each will wind up.Uncommitted: Davonte NealHigh school: Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.)Position:
5-foot-10, 180 poundsTom Lemming's Top 100: No. 67
(No. 4 wingback
Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Ohio StateMore uncommitted players: D.J. Foster
, Josh Garnett
, Aziz Shittu
, Darius Hamilton
, Trae Elston
, Devin Fuller
, Josh Harvey-Clemons
, Joel Caleb, Kwon Alexander
and Eddie Goldman
On the field, Davonte Neal rarely hesitates - unless it's to set up a block or deke a quarterback into throwing a ball in his direction. The Chaparral athlete is very decisive and fast otherwise.
Then there is the matter of committing to a college. Neal is definitely taking his time.
The two-time Gatorade Arizona State Player of the Year has scheduled an official visit to Arizona for Feb. 11, so it is pretty clear Neal will not be among the 99 percent of the other recruits who sign letters of intent on National Signing Day (Feb. 1). The decision came after a two-hour meeting with Arizona's new coach, Rich Rodriguez, according to The Arizona Republic.
It also helps that his former coach at Chaparral, Charlie Ragle, was hired by Rodriguez as an assistant director of football operations and the staff's liaison to high school relations.
"We discussed the program, just to get to know more about the program," Neal told the Republic. "I'm taking an official visit Feb. 11. Beyond that, I don't know."
Neal may also entertain the idea of joining Arizona State with new coach Todd Graham trying to open up the lines of communication. A meeting was planned between Neal and Graham after his official visit to Arkansas on Jan. 21.
It comes after Neal's father, Luke, said his son would not pick ASU if it hired former Saguaro coach John Sanders, who was rumored to be joining the Sun Devils staff and coached Chaparral's rival. It might be why the talk of Sanders heading to Tempe in some capacity has cooled.
It is clear the change at the top of both in-state programs has Neal waiting it out and not rushing to a decision. He has also taken official visits to Notre Dame, North Carolina and Ohio State.
"This recruitment is the hardest to peg because Neal has been all over the map, eliminating schools and then letting them back in," the East Valley Tribune's Kyle Odegard said. "Ohio State, Notre Dame and Arizona seem like the favorites, but Neal could end up anywhere.
"Neal likes to be in the spotlight, and there's no school in the country that gives him that opportunity better than Notre Dame, so my guess is he lands with the Fighting Irish."
Wherever Neal ends up, that program will be getting a playmaker. He was named a first-team All-American defensive back by MaxPreps
while surpassing the 1,000-yard mark in both rushing and receiving with 35 total touchdowns.
With just a few weeks before the official signing date, here are the destinations Neal is considering and where we think he'll end up:Arizona State (no chance):
Too much negativity here to believe he ends up in a Sun Devil uniform. A late push by the new coaching staff won't cut it.Arkansas (long shot):
Official visit notwithstanding, there hasn't been much talk about the Razorbacks being serious contenders. The one thing that might give them an edge is the fact that Arkansas has a great track and field program and Neal is still a sprinter at heart.Notre Dame (fair possibility):
As pointed out above, Neal craves the spotlight. Notre Dame isn't what it used to be in that regard but it is still Notre Dame.Ohio State (fair possibility):
His family has Ohio ties and I remember when Neal was freshman at Cesar Chavez, the public address announcer at Chavez said Neal was infatuated with playing for the Buckeyes. That was long ago, but that conversation has always stuck with me.Arizona (book it):
It seems to me that if you are waiting until 10 days after the official start of the signing period, you are giving that school an awful lot of consideration. Throw in Ragle's presence in Tucson and the fact that Neal's father has a previous relationship with Arizona assistant Robert Anae (they coached together at Ricks College) and the Wildcats have the inside track.
Jason P. Skoda, a former Arizona
Republic and current Ahwatukee Foothill News staff writer, is a 15-year sports
writing veteran. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 480-272-2449.