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February 27, 2012

Notre Dame-bound Neal switching high schools

MORE NOTRE DAME: For the best coverage, turn to IrishIllustrated.com

Add one more chapter to the bizarre recruiting saga of Notre Dame-bound wide receiver Davonte Neal.

Neal signed with Notre Dame last week after failing to show up for an elementary school assembly at which he was expected to announce his college choice. He cited a family emergency for the misunderstanding. Now he has withdrawn from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral High School in the second semester of his senior year.

The Arizona Republic reported that Neal will finish high school at Phoenix (Ariz.) Central.

Luke Neal, the four-star recruit's father told IrishIllustrated.com that Neal graduate on time this spring. Luke Neal also indicated that Notre Dame officials already had spoken with Neal's high school guidance counselor.

"[Davonte], the school and Notre Dame are all on the same page right now," Luke Neal told IrishIllustrated.com on Monday.

Luke Neal didn't give a reason for the transfer but said it had been planned for a while. Luke Neal also said he would have further contact with Notre Dame officials in the next 24 hours.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly told the South Bend Tribune the school is in the process of getting an up-to-date report.

"There are a lot of things, that from our standpoint, we're still getting information in on," he told the paper Monday afternoon. "But he's going to have his academics taken care of, and that's really the most important things for us."

Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell, who has covered recruiting for more than a decade, said he was surprised to hear the news.

"For a kid that was from my understanding on his way to qualifying, it's pretty unusual," he said. "I've seen kids leave in the fall to go to a different school because they want to get their grades together, but for a kid to leave in his spring semester is pretty rare."

Farrell also is concerned by what it could mean.

"It's going to be interesting to see," he said. "From the beginning of the process, there were some schools that lost interest in him early because of certain family issues there. Then Ohio State dropped him because of certain family issues. Then you have the whole standing up the elementary kids because of family issues. And now he's leaving a well-established school that produces D-I kids and has a head coach who's well respected. In my experience over the years, kids with this much drama surrounding them rarely pan out."

Chaparral football coach Dave Huffine, who was the school's offensive coordinator last season, offered little insight into the situation when reached by the Republic.

"It's a personal matter and I wish him the best of luck," he told the paper.

Neal, No. 17 wide receiver and No. 107 overall prospect in the 2012 recruiting class, waited three weeks after National Signing Day before selecting Notre Dame over Arizona, Arkansas and North Carolina. He gained a bit of unwanted notoriety as he didn't show up for a scheduled Tuesday morning press conference to announce his decision and stood up hundreds of Phoenix (Ariz.) Kyrene de la Esperanza Elementary School students in the process.

Neal had planned his conference at the elementary school he attended as a way to honor some of the people who had helped him achieve his dreams. He did arrive at the school later that afternoon and apologized for his absence, citing the family emergency.

Notre Dame is counting on Neal to fortify a receiving corps that must replace the production of record-setting wideout and potential first-round draft pick Michael Floyd. Neal's decision to attend Notre Dame helped the Irish make up for the loss of Rivals100 receiver Deontay Greenberry, who made a surprising Signing Day switch to Houston after being committed to Notre Dame for almost a year.

Neal, a two-time Gatorade state player of the year, compiled 2,020 receiving yards and 27 touchdown catches over his last two seasons at Chaparral. He rushed for 1,317 yards and caught 62 passes for 1,113 yards as a senior.

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.



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