Davonte Neal Signing: Star Athlete's Interest Alone Will Pay Dividends

Casey CroweFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2012

As the final uncommitted 4-star recruit in the country, Chaparral High School receiver/defensive back Davonte Neal (Scottsdale, Ariz.) is receiving a wealth of media attention.

And as the last prospect standing, there is a wide range of speculation regarding which school the the 5'9", 175-pound blazer will announce on Tuesday afternoon—sending his letter of intent from his former elementary school, according to Rivals.com.

Despite skipping an official visit to in-state Arizona, Neal is still considering Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats. 

There are several factors working in the Wildcats' favor.

First, Neal would likely see the field immediately at Arizona, becoming a focal point of the program wherever they decide to slot him (which could be on both sides of the ball).

Next, his former high school coach, Charlie Ragle, was hired by Rodriguez as the assistant director of football operations at Arizona in December.

And Neal's former teammates Cody Ippolito (a close friend), Dylan Cozens and Lucas Petrullo, will all be on the roster. Ippolito, Petrullo and Neal were three-time state champs at Chaparral.

Add to that the fact that Neal's dad, Luke, coached with Arizona offensive line coach Robert Anae in the 1990s, according to the Arizona Republicand the ties seem considerable.

Still, Neal's commitment to play in Tucson is a long shot.

Even if he opts to play elsewhere, Neal's consideration of the Wildcats alone kept Arizona's name in the mix nationally as a contender for the eighth-rated prospect in the country.

Arizona is battling several heavyweights on the recruiting scene, as a duo of high-profile programs are also in the running for Neal's services.

Bobby Petrino and Arkansas covet Neal, offering an opportunity to play in the nation's premier football conference—the SEC.

And Notre Dame is holding one of its golden scholarships for Neal. A chance to play for the Irish still wields serious clout, even in spite of the less-than-dominant results for the program in recent decades.

North Carolina is the fourth contender, and the Tar Heels seem like the least-likely destination at this point.

Wherever Neal lands, just being mentioned in the conversation with name-brand powers like Notre Dame and Arkansas bodes well for Rodriguez's ability to sell what he is building in Tucson.

The man has already shown no fear in aggressively going after recruits from all over the country, taking two potential top-shelf receivers—Clive Georges and Trey Griffey—out of SEC country, and another, Dakota Conwell, out of Pennsylvania.

And he's also courting elite prospects, narrowly missing out on New Jersey quarterback Devin Fuller to UCLA—a 4-star recruit like Neal.

Whether Neal ends up in Tucson or not, his heavy interest alone boosts the program's recruiting status.