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Thursday, September 29, 2011
Return of the POY: Arizona's Davonte Neal

By Eric Snyder

The 2011-12 Gatorade State Football Players of the Year selection process is underway, and what better way to kick off coverage than with profiles of returning underclassmen winners? Repeating is no guarantee, but here's a snapshot of what this year’s challengers can shoot for …

Davonte Neal
Davonte Neal is the returning Gatorade Arizona Football Player of the Year.
Name: Davonte Neal

Position: Wide receiver/defensive back/kick returner

Grade: Senior

School: Chaparral High (Paradise Valley, Ariz.)

College: Undecided

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 175 pounds

Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade Arizona Football Player of the Year ... No. 28 national recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU ... Led Firebirds (14-0) to Class 5A, Division II state championship in 2010 ... Recorded 29 touchdowns in 2010: 12 rushing, 11 receiving, 3 punt returns, 2 interception returns, 1 kickoff return.
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Academics: 3.04 GPA

Extracurricular activities: Middle school mentor ... youth football coach

Dana Zupke, head coach of rival Pinnacle High: "I think Davonte Neal is not only the best player in our state this year, but he will go down as one of the best players in the state all time. He is strong, extremely fast and physical, and he is a tough competitor."

Each Gatorade State Player of the Year is challenged by thousands of fellow high school athletes. These are a few of the returning football underclassmen that also contended in 2010-11 …

Connor Brewer SR QB Chaparral; Andrus Peat SR OT Corona del Sol; Zach Hemmila SR OG Chandler

A dedicated POY team at ESPNHS manages the Gatorade Player of the Year program selection process and oversees all research, reporting, comparative analysis and criteria-compliance on the award program’s behalf. Candidates are judged upon athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders must also demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Any class year is eligible, senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of ESPNU's recruit rankings.

To nominate a student-athlete for Player of the Year honors, contact the POY team at poy@risemag.com.