Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Updated: February 22, 1:29 PM ET
Davonte Neal chooses Notre Dame
Prize wide receiver recruit Davonte Neal, ranked No. 8 overall in the ESPNU 150, made up his mind and chose Notre Dame over Arizona, Arkansas and North Carolina on Tuesday.
Neal, the top-rated athlete in the nation and last unsigned member of the ESPNU 150, will inject another dose of star power into coach Brian Kelly's third class of recruits.
"It's huge," Neal told ESPN.com reporter Nick Ruland. "Not only people in South Bend can see me but people all across the country. My family. My grandmother who is in North Carolina."
He said he was impressed with Notre Dame's academic reputation, Kelly's coaching and the opportunity to play right away on either offense or defense for the Irish.
"That's exactly what I wanted," said Neal, who led Chaparral High School to back-to-back championships. "Go in and play in my first year. Be on special teams. Be on the offensive side and hopefully be on the defensive side as well."
Neal's decision came hours after he didn't show up to his originally-scheduled announcement at his former elementary school, which was attended by 600 elementary school children, friends and family. After waiting approximately 30 minutes, the morning assembly at the Kyrene de la Esperanza school ended.
According to Davonte's father, Luke, it was a "very serious family crisis" that kept Davonte Neal from disclosing Tuesday morning he is heading to Notre Dame.
"It's really bad right now and we just want to kind of keep that away," Luke Neal told Ruland. "It is a personal family trauma."
At 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, Neal played receiver in the Under Armour All-America Game, though he was picked for the event as a defensive back. As a senior, the two-time Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year scored 30 touchdowns on offense, added three on special teams and starred in the secondary with 12 pass breakups. He finished as the No. 8 overall prospect nationally.
He extended his recruiting by taking a visit to Arizona after signing day and also made trips to Arkansas, Ohio State, Notre Dame and North Carolina.
"[The Wildcats] were big because they are an in-state school," Davonte Neal said. "It's close to home. Close to family members. That was a pretty big influence."
This class for the Irish, with the addition of Neal, is now ranked ninth nationally by ESPN and features five other members of the ESPNU 150, headlined by No. 3-rated quarterback Gunner Kiel of Columbus, Ind. Neal is the lone five-star prospect in the group.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.