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Football: Top recruit Neal signs with Irish

Observer Staff Report | Tuesday, February 21, 2012

After California receiver Deontay Greenberry spurned Notre Dame on National Signing Day three weeks ago, Irish coach Brian Kelly picked up a big commitment in his place Tuesday when Arizona receiver Davonte Neal committed to the Irish.

Neal plays receiver and cornerback and was ranked as the No. 1 athlete in the country by ESPN. He is a two-time Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year and led his team to state championships in both 2010 and 2011.

“Davonte was an electric playmaker in high school and was capable of making the big play any time he had the ball in his hands,” Kelly said in a statement. “He excelled as a receiver, as a running back and as a returner for coach [Charlie] Ragle at Chaparral High School. I imagine we’ll use him in a similar fashion here.”

Neal’s commitment came after a protracted series of events that started when he decided not to announce his commitment on National Signing Day. After coming to a decision, Neal scheduled an announcement at a local elementary school for Tuesday morning. When the time came to announce his decision, Neal was not in attendance. He arrived significantly later, after the television network planning on broadcasting his announcement had already left the school.

Despite the day’s drama, Kelly was pleased Neal eventually chose Notre Dame.

“Deciding on a college is one of the toughest decisions a young player makes in his life, so we are very pleased with Davonte’s decision to attend Notre Dame,” Kelly said.

Kelly said he would be a welcome addition to the incoming freshman class.

“Davonte is a great complement for our 2012 recruiting class,” Kelly said. “As I said almost three weeks ago, we wanted to add more skill players to our team and we did a nice job of doing that. I look forward to coaching Davonte and the rest of his class this fall.”