The NCAA has denied DaVonte' Neal, shown diving for a muffed punt while playing for Notre Dame in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, instant eligibility for this season after transferring to Arizona.
Arizona's coaches, players and fans got a piece of long-awaited news on Monday, and it wasn't good: Highly regarded transfer DaVonte' Neal was not granted permission to play this season.
DaVonte Neal's hardship waiver to play right away has been denied by the NCAA. UA will appeal again, but RichRod not optimistic at all.— Daniel Berk (@DSBerk) September 9, 2013
Neal, a wide receiver and kick returner who chose Notre Dame over Arizona coming out of Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral High School in 2011, played in all 13 games for the Fighting Irish last season but had minimal stats.
He opted to transfer to Arizona following his freshman year to be closer to family, including his girlfriend and newborn daughter, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
Normally, football players are required to sit out a season when transferring from one FBS program to another, but Neal applied for a hardship due to his family situation. The denial announced Monday by Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez was the second time the NCAA has turned down Neal's wish to play right away at Arizona.
Rodriguez told reporters at his weekly press conference Monday the school would likely file a third appeal, but the coach wasn't optimistic it would be approved.
Had Neal been cleared to play he would have joined a receiving corps that is thin on experience and, through two games, has only caught 12 passes for 128 yards and no touchdowns. Arizona's passing offense is averaging just 84 yards per game, which ranks 122nd out of 123 FBS programs.
The Wildcats' rushing attack, though, ranks seventh overall at 351.5 yards per game.