Davonte' Neal committed to Notre Dame two years ago after narrowing his choices to also include Arizona, Arkansas and North Carolina. He saw action returning punts/kicks for the Irish this past season and appeared to have a shot at being an impact slot receiver this coming season.
“I loved everything about Notre Dame,” Neal said. “It’s a great place and I have nothing but good memories there. My dad and I talked before I signed there that when you go to Notre Dame, you’re not just making a four year decision, you’re making a 40 year one.
“I know I was only there for one year but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I met so many great people and my teammates and I will be friends for life. I really want to thank Coach Kelly for taking a chance on me and I’m grateful to him. It wasn’t easy deciding to leave but I felt like this was something I had to do.”
The reason Neal said he had to do it was because he wanted to be a father to his new two month old baby.
“I wanted to be there for my daughter,” Neal said. “Originally the plan was for them to move to South Bend with me but we wanted to be closer to home and closer to our family. We’ve been together since 8th grade and we have a great support system set up right here.
“I talked to a handful of schools and originally thought I would be playing somewhere in California. I decided today that Arizona was the place for me. I visited UA and coach Rich Rod last weekend and it went really well. I like Coach Rodriguez a lot and he showed me how well I would fit in with their offense.
“I think Arizona is an up and coming program and that offense is going to be a lot of fun to play in. He wants me to returns punts and kicks and also play in the slot. We actually watched some video of how I would be used and I was really comfortable with that. When I combined that fit with my daughter being minutes away, I knew UA was the spot for me.”
Next up for Neal will be to see if he can become eligible to play this coming season.
“We’re working on that tomorrow,” Neal said. “When I talked to Coach Rodriguez, he said we’re going to jump on that tomorrow and turn in a hardship waiver to the NCAA and hopefully I can get eligible right away. I think there’s a good chance of it happening but it will be a win-win for me either way.
“If I can play, that’s great, I can’t wait to get out there. If I have to sit out the year, then I can spend the year with my daughter and be there for her full time her first year. We’ll see what happens but I’m thrilled with my decision and so excited to be a Wildcat. When I told Coach Rodriguez tonight, he was yelling and screaming, it was a fun moment and I’m just as excited as he is.”