Posted by Bryan Fischer
You can finally close the book on the class of 2012.
The country's lone remaining uncommitted top 100 recruit, Scottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal, ended all of the late drama and committed to Notre Dame after a no-show to a ceremony Tuesday morning.
“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,” Brian Kelly said in a school release confirming Neal had faxed in his letter of intent. “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. 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.”
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Neal can play either cornerback or slot receiver but will likely wind up taking snaps on the offensive side of the ball at the next level. His recruitment was kept under the radar for most of 2011 before heating up with late official visits and multiple suitors coming in late to make their pitch. In the end, he delayed his decision 20 days after Signing Day to pick Notre Dame over his other finalists Arizona, Arkansas and North Carolina.
Neal was named a MaxPreps first-team All-American as a defensive back while topping the 1,000-yard mark in total offense to go with 35 touchdowns last season as a senior. Many believed he would stay close to home because of numerous ties to Arizona, including the fact that his high school coach, Rangel, was hired by new head coach Rich Rodriguez before Signing Day and several of his teammates are committed to the program.
Bottom line however, the Irish are getting a great player who is ranked as the number four wingback and 67th overall player in the country.
"He is a receiver who must be double-teamed at all times," analyst Tom Lemming said of Neal. "He comes off the ball quickly with speed and strength, gets in and out of his cuts quickly, catches the ball, and then turns up field in a flash. He always takes what the defense gives him, can catch the ball at its highest points, and once he has secured the ball that's when the fun starts. He can out run almost every back he goes up against and shows excellent open field moves."
Neal's pledge gives Notre Dame 17 commitments for the class of 2012.