Was that Rich Rodriguez doing cartwheels down the mall on the University of Arizona campus?
Naw. If the new head football coach for the Wildcats showed any kind of sudden elation, it would spoil the big event scheduled for next Tuesday when Davonte’ Neal is supposed to let the college sports world know where he will be playing next year.
(*Update 2/21… Neal didn’t bother to show up for the scheduled announcement, failing to notify either his former elementary school that was hosting the event, media, or those who had shown up to watch the big moment. No immediate word from Neal or his family as to a reason behind the no-show. Several hours later he announced he had selected Notre Dame. Sorry, Rich Rod.)
At last report, the coveted prospect from Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, had his list narrowed to four teams. But an article by Dick Obert in The Arizona Republic reveals that Neal has made up his mind and notified the lucky coach of his decision.
Obert says his “gut tells him” it’s Arizona that the four-star wide receiver/cornerback has selected, based on comments he received from Neal’s father. Luke Neal wouldn’t reveal his son’s decision, but it would appear family considerations are weighing heavily into the final choice and that would lean the outcome toward staying at home.
The others on his short list were all out of state and included Notre Dame, Arkansas, and North Carolina.
The 5’10”, 175-pound speedster is the last big name in the recruiting game to make his commitment. He is the only one left out of the ESPNU Top 150 and ranked as high as the No. 8 prep prospect in the country.
And that, evidently, warrants webcast coverage of the announcement, which Neal has promised on Tuesday morning. FoxSportsArizona.com will do the webcast.
What, no ESPN?
Let’s face it, this is big. At least it is to the Arizona football program and Rich Rod. It would be the biggest catch of his first recruiting class in Tucson – and validate his ability to recruit in-state, which he has promised will be a focus of attention going forward.
The biggest loser would probably be Notre Dame, which appeared to have an inside track most recently – and the Irish really need a wide receiver of Neal’s caliber since they lost a game-breaker in Deontay Greenberry, who switched his commit on national signing day to the University of Houston.
Brian Kelly’s offense relies on the kind of speed (4.4 40-yard) Neal would bring to the party.
Officially, Notre Dame isn’t out of the running. They will have to wait until Tuesday, just like the rest of us.
But there are some strong signs that point to an Arizona decision.
He seems to be re-evaluating things after the recent death of a cousin in an automobile accident, maybe looking at the value of family closeness a little differently. Playing near to his home may now be playing a bigger role in his decision.
Arizona also just put his former coach at Chaparral on the payroll, hiring Charlie Ragle to be the program’s liaison for the Cats’ recruiting efforts with the local high schools.
And his best friend, Cody Ippolito, who played linebacker at Chaparral, has already signed up to play at Arizona.
The fact that he’s making the announcement at his former grade school in Ahwatukee also lends some credence to the idea that this will be a decision to stay in the state.
No one knows for sure where Neal is headed, other than Davonte himself. Except, of course, his father… the rest of the family… his girlfriend…his new coach…the other coaches he had to turn down…and their coaching staffs.
Hmmm. What are the chances the big secret will last until Tuesday?