Notre Dame transfer Neal picks Arizona

TUCSON, Ariz. – The Arizona football team added some significant talent at wide receiver and on special teams overnight – although it was months in the making.
Davonte’ Neal, who decided to transfer from Notre Dame recently, committed to Arizona on Tuesday. Neal was Arizona’s No. 1 recruiting target last year.

How soon he will be able to make an impact with the Wildcats will soon be determined.

According to reports, Neal will apply to the NCAA for a hardship waiver, which if approved would make him eligible for play in 2013. Typically, a transfer must sit out a season before becoming eligible.

Neal, a 5-foot-9, 171-pound receiver from Scottsdale Chaparral, chose Arizona over UCLA.

Arizona had been a finalist when Neal was in high school, but he chose Notre Dame in a decision that was not made until well after signing day and after an awkward moment at his former elementary school in Ahwatukee. Neal scheduled a press conference in front of a school assembly to announce his college choice, then failed to show when the time arrived.

Neal’s stay at Notre Dame lasted less than a school year. He has a 9-week-old daughter and a longtime girlfriend in Phoenix.

“The primary reason I chose Arizona was because it was close to my family, and my daughter can come see me every day – that was the most important to me, and having that family support,” Neal told Blue and Gold Illustrated. “The way Coach (Rich) 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.”
As a senior at Chaparral, Neal ran for 1,317 yards, caught 62 passes for 1,113 yards and scored 35 touchdowns. He was rated as a top-100 prospect by numerous scouting services and as high as No. 8 overall by ESPNU. For Notre Dame, which played in the BCS national title game, Neal played sparingly on offense but was the primary punt returner, though without much success. He returned 21 punts for 46 yards.

He was a Parade Magazine All-American and a two-time Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year while at Chaparral. He was coached by Charlie Ragle, who is now UA’s tight ends coach and special-teams coordinator.