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February 21, 2012
It started for Davonte Neal at Kyrene de la Esperanza Elementary School.
It ended there too, just about four hours later than planned.
The four-star athlete from Scottsdale, Ariz., meant to wrap his recruitment on Tuesday morning during a ceremony at the school when the Under Armour All-American faxed his signed letter of intent to Notre Dame, Arizona, North Carolina or Arkansas.
But Neal didn't show at his own ceremony, which was attended by a few hundred elementary school students. About an hour after the show started, the school's principal ended it.
Then four hours later Neal returned to the school with his father Luke Neal, who'd managed his son's recruitment much of the past few years. The Arizona Republic reported that Neal planned to apologize the students about his morning no show.
Neal called Brian Kelly from the school after announcing his decision.
Neal gives Notre Dame a needed boost of athleticism at the receiver position after the Irish lost four-star receiver Deontay Greenberry to Houston on National Signing Day. Neal projects as a slot receiver and returner for the Irish after he went over 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiver as a senior, posting 30-plus touchdowns along the way.
Neal joins Irish signees Chris Brown and Justin Ferguson at the receiver position in a recruiting class that finishes at 17 prospects. Neal is Notre Dame's eighth four-star prospect in a haul that also includes five-star quarterback Gunner Kiel, who's already enrolled in South Bend.
Notre Dame got just one shot at Neal, hosting him on an official visit during the Dec. 9 weekend along with Sheldon Day, Scott Daly, Taylor Decker, Josh Garnett, Ronnie Stanley, John Turner and Schyler Miles. Neal followed up with official visits to Ohio State (Jan. 13), Arkansas (Jan. 20) and North Carolina (Jan. 27).
But that shot proved on target, even if the Irish had to wait nearly three weeks after National Signing Day for the news and then another four hours after that.