Soap operas should be reserved for daytime viewing, not college football. But if one has been following the Davonte Neal story, the saga has been nothing short of “soap opera”.
The 5-star recruit was once an Ohio State target. It would have been a good fit. Neal was a speedy playmaker in line with Percy Harvin, and Urban Meyer’s spread offense needs players who have speed and quickness in space to make tacklers miss.
Then signing day came and Rivals’ Mike Farrell declared that Neal wanted to sign with Ohio State but the Buckeyes rescinded their offer.
The Arizona Republic initially came to Neal’s defense citing his father as a source stating the family had no knowledge of the situation.
Buckeye fans assumed that Ohio State was a lock to sign current Maryland recruit Stefon Diggs, who himself has gotten into some hot water.
Diggs did not sign with Ohio State, instead opting for his hometown school, Maryland and Ohio State was left without their playmaker.
There were rumblings that maybe Ohio State would re-open their recruitment of Neal but these were just rumors and on-line chat discussions. Ohio State never moved.
One would think this would be enough drama for one recruit, but the story does not end there. After publicizing that he would sign on Feb. 21, Neal scheduled a signing event at his old elementary school. Six hundred students gathered in an auditorium hoping to witness the beginnings of a great football career. But Neal was a no-show and the event was eventually cancelled. Neal showed up later to fax his LOI.
Why did Neal not come to his school after an event was planned and a school of about 600 students forfeited time in the classroom to watch someone sign a piece of paper? Greg Billing of the Dayton Daily News writes, “The family said the tardiness was the result of a family emergency but offered few details. Speculation was a disagreement between Neal and his father as to which college he should attend.”
Either way, Neal did not look good. But the story does not end here.
After signing a letter of intent to play for Notre Dame, it has been reported that Neal has dropped out of high school while not possessing enough credits to graduate. He will transfer from Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Ariz. to his third school Central High School in Phoenix.
Pete Sampson of Rivals.com writes,
“Head coach Brian Kelly was asked about Neal's status on Monday.
"I can't give you the update right now," Kelly said. "There are a lot of things, that from our standpoint, we're still getting information in on. But he's going to have his academics taken care of, and that's really the most important things for us."
After dealing with the Terrelle Pryor fiasco, Buckeye's fans may be breathing a sigh of relief. What was once an odd story that did not seem to mesh with the facts has become clearer and clearer as to why Ohio State pulled out of the Davonte Neal sweepstakes.
OSU learned firsthand that 5-star athletes are not worth it if they bring 5-star trouble. With three years' probation, the Buckeyes cannot afford to take any high risk players and it appears that the reason Ohio State pulled their scholarship offer was some information on Neal that is now coming to light.
Look for more facts on Neal’s transfer to surface in the coming days and weeks. Buckeye fans have much to look forward to, and the last thing any fan, player or coach needs is to deal with a potential problem. It looks like one has been avoided.