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February 27, 2012
Neal transfers, Kelly confident
Davonte Neal expects to do his best work in the fourth quarter at his third high school.
The four-star Irish signee withdrew from Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Monday and will restart his academic march toward graduation and eventual enrollment at Notre Dame at Central High School in Phoenix.
Father Luke Neal told Irish Illustrated the move had been in the works in the past week and is designed to let the future Notre Dame slot receiver focus on preparing for college. Neal won't run track this spring, instead concentrating on his academics and off-season training.
Central High School operates on a quarter system with Neal set to enroll there in March for the final academic cycle. The transfer will be Neal's second in high school after playing his freshman and sophomore seasons at Cesar Chavez High School, then moving to Chaparral the winter of his sophomore year. Neal won Gatorade Player of the Year in Arizona the past two seasons with Chaparral.
"That's exactly what this is, an opportunity to focus on school with no distractions," Luke Neal said. "It's just 'hi' and 'bye' now at the school. He can just go to class, come home, work out. That's it.
"He doesn't know anybody and nobody knows him."
Neal signed with Notre Dame last week after a false start at Kyrene de la Esperanza Elementary School where the athlete didn't attend his own ceremony the morning of Feb. 21, then returned to the school later that day to fax his letter of intent to South Bend.
The elementary school signing was unconventional even if it had gone to plan, but Neal's high school transfer may shed some light on why he didn't sign at Chaparral. Still, the seemingly unprecedented spring switch of high schools appeared to throw into question Neal's path toward meeting Notre Dame's academic requirements.
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."
The Neal family spoke with recruiter Kerry Cooks and strength and conditioning coach Paul Longo on Monday, according to Luke, who added that his son was up to 177 pounds. According to the father, Davonte is on track to graduate high school with his academic requirements for Notre Dame met.
Neal expects to receive Notre Dame's workout plan later this week. He's regularly run track in high school but won't compete this season.
"He's more focused than I've ever seen him," Luke said. "There's so much inside him that he's letting out in a positive way."