UA recruit Davonte Neal a no-show at press conference
Rodriguez, Arizona continue to await Neal's decision
PHOENIX — The press conference was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at Kyrene de la Esperanza Elementary School.
About 600 elementary school children were assembled, waiting to hear where former Esperanza Shark and highly recruited football star Davonte’ Neal would play college football. Twenty minutes later, Esperanza Elementary School principal Cheryl Greene announced receiver/cornerback Neal was not showing up for his announcement.
“All we know is there was a family emergency and they are very emotional and very torn,” Greene said. “They wanted to be here. I know it meant a lot to Davonte’. This was his special day.”
Greene said she could not get through to the Neals on the phone but decided to end the assembly. She said she has the sealed letter of intent that Neal was supposed to sign during the press conference.
Rich Rodriguez speaks during the press conference to officially announce his appointment to the head coach of UA football, on 22 Nov. 2011. Keith Hickman-Perfetti/ Arizona Daily Wildcat
Arizona has already made strong connections surrounding Neal, adding former Chaparral High School coach Charlie Ragle to Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez’s staff. Cody Ippolito, a high school teammate and best friend of Neal who has already signed at Arizona, was at the press conference wearing an Arizona sweatshirt, but left about 10 minutes before Greene ended the assembly.
Neal, the lone player in ESPNU’s top 150 to remain unsigned, was offered scholarships to at least 20 schools, but had narrowed his choices down to Arizona, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Arkansas.
In a video montage that played during the conference, Neal explained how he had to make decisions in his life regarding football.
“I had to make a lot of sacrifices as a kid,” Neal said in the video. “My friends didn’t do that because they didn’t understand what I was doing.”
Neal also said he made time sacrifices and was highly influenced by teachers and family during the video.
Neal was scheduled to make a visit to Arizona on Feb. 11, but had to cancel because of a death in his family. There was no announcement about when Neal would make his college choice.
Check back in with dailywildcat.com for updates later in the day.