It looks like Notre Dame players are deciding to leave left and right. First it was Gunner Kiel, now Davonte' Neal is set to transfer from South Bend as well.
Jason Sapp of 247Sports reported the news, as his father, Luke Neal, confirmed his son’s decision, which surprisingly had little to do with the lack of playing time a year ago.
The reason for Davonte’s transfer is that he’s the father of a six-week old baby girl (Baylee) with his girlfriend (Marie Burton) that he has dated since seventh grade. Said Luke Neal, Davonte’s father, of his granddaughter that was born on Feb. 2. The plan was to move his girlfriend and his baby to South Bend, but Davonte’ just felt the need to be closer to his family and his girlfriend’s family at this time.
It’s a situation that I’ve been talking to Davonte’ about the past four months, and he’s finally realized he wants to be involved in his daughter’s life closer than from a distance at Notre Dame.
Neal came out of high school in Scottsdale, Ariz. and came to Notre Dame as one of the more highly recruited players of the 2012 recruiting class. Known for his speed and versatility on either side of the ball, his commitment over other top-notch schools excited Irish fans with the potential he brought to the table. Last season was a disappointment, however, as Neal finished the year with only one reception and was used mostly on special teams to call fair catches.
While some will say Neal wasn't used properly last year, his father says he may have had other things on his mind that contributed to the lack of success.
I feel that his production level, as his father and his trainer, had declined just because of the mental part of what he was going through – being a new father and knowing the baby was on the way while he was away from home. Luke said. He had a lot on his mind that really couldn’t help him to be as productive as he wanted to be when he got to Notre Dame.
As for where Neal may eventually end up, his father goes on to say that a school in the California area may fit him best considering the familiarity and past relationships he has already developed. However, if he ends up at another Division I school, he will be forced to sit out the entire 2013 season, which would leave him with three years of eligibility remaining.
Neal's father says he wants to reassure that this decision has very little to do with football or the lack of playing time a year ago. This is strictly a personal decision that was made, and they would both like to thank the Notre Dame community for all of the memories.
Thanks to all of Notre Dame nation for welcoming us to the family and Notre Dame will always be a part of our family. Luke said. The university has been extremely helpful and supportive in the decision-making process. We couldn’t have asked for a better first year and we thank Notre Dame tremendously for the man that they have helped Davonte’ become.
We didn’t come to Notre Dame to play football. We came to Notre Dame for the experience over the next forty years. And in the first year that he’s been there, he’s got 39 of them already done.
Hopefully there is a happy ending to this story and Neal can thrive elsewhere, wherever that may be.