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Davonte Neal: Notre Dame's 2012 Recruiting Woes Saved by 5-Star Athlete

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Head coach Brian Kelly and quarterback Tommy Rees #13 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish embrace after the game against the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 27, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  Notre Dame won 20-16.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Eric BowmanChief Writer IVDecember 12, 2016

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish recruiting class suffered some big hits close to national signing day, but the late addition of Davonte Neal on Tuesday made up for everything. 

According to USA Today, Neal, a 5-star athlete, chose the Fighting Irish over hometown Arizona, North Carolina and Arkansas. 

Since Notre Dame lost wide receiver Deontay Greenberry on national signing day and failed to convince talented corner Ronald Darby to re-commit, the Fighting Irish desperately needed Neal to pick them. 

It was certain were Neal would go, but if Notre Dame missed out on him, its 2012 recruiting class wouldn't be elite like it needed it to be. 

Notre Dame was suffering after a lackluster national signing day. However, all of that is forgotten now that Neal decided to come play for Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish. 

Before Neal signed, Notre Dame had just one 5-star recruit, according to Rivals. That was quarterback Gunner Kiel, but it was clear that the Fighting Irish needed playmakers to help Kiel down the road. 

Wide receiver Justin Ferguson was a good pickup, but he doesn't have the explosiveness like Neal does. Sure, Ferguson can turn into a star at some point, but Notre Dame had a big need for impact players right away. 

Now they have one in Neal, whose blazing speed will be featured in many ways under the coaching of Kelly. Neal is extremely dangerous in the open space, so expect the Fighting Irish to get him the ball as much as possible. 

With Michael Floyd off to the NFL, it wasn't clear who would produce at a high level like he did for Notre Dame. Neal is a much different player than Floyd, but he can certainly help move the chains in a big way for Kelly's offense. 

Whether he's in the slot, out wide or in the backfield, Neal is a dynamic player that is going to tremendously help Notre Dame once he steps foot on campus. Neal can even contribute on defense if needed, but the 5'10", 175-pound athlete would better serve Notre Dame on offense. 

Things were looking pretty bleak for the Fighting Irish, but landing Neal allows the fans and coaching staff to forget the players they missed on and put the focus toward winning big in 2012. 


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