Neal fond of hometown Sun Devils

It would not be a stretch to say that none of ASU's 2012 prospects have had as much exposure to the program as Davonte' Neal. The Scottsdale Chaparral standout was on the Sun Devils' recruiting radar since he was a high school freshman. That along with being the team's ball boy in 2007 has helped this four-star prospect to greatly appreciate coach Dennis Erickson and the maroon and gold program.

Needless to say that Arizona State has placed the 5-9 175 Davonte' Neal as one of their primary in-state recruiting targets and their efforts haven't gone unnoticed by Neal.

"Things are going great with Arizona State," Neal said. "I love coach Erickson and the program. They were the first school to offer me and I can honestly say that it's going to be hard to get away from them. This is my home and I have built great relationships with coach Erickson and ASU.

"If I know that I will be playing for coach Erickson the whole time I'm going be there, I'm probably going to pick ASU. I know coach Erickson has great team graduation rates and that is important to me. I also want to major in broadcasting and the Walter Cronkite school is tops in the country."

As one the elite prospects in the state, Neal is aware that if he decided to pledge to the Sun Devils that it could entice his fellow local prospects to follow suit.

"I can't force other 2012 prospects to join me," Neal explained. "But I'm a competitive person and I want to be around competitive people. So you can either play with me or play against me. I'm going to make my decision based on what is good for me and you either joining me and have to go against me and then one of us won't have fun.

"And I know I will have fun."

The Arizona Republic's Big Schools (4A-5A)Player of the Year transferred to Chaparral from Cesar Chavez for his junior year and it was a transition that undoubtedly paid immediate dividends. At wide receiver he caught 37 passes for 907 yards and 11 TDs, while posting 21 tackles and 5 INTs at cornerback. The two-way athlete was instrumental in the Firebirds' 14-0 season that ended with capturing their second consecutive 5A2 State championship.

"We know that this upcoming season will be more challenging because we will have a target on our back," Neal stated. "We have great coaches, a great support staff and this is a first-class program. So I know we will be prepared for this year. We repeated as state champions and getting a three-peat will be very hard. But I thrive on people who go after me and that inspires me to work even harder.

"It's not about shutting anyone up, but it's about going out there and playing better than the person lining up across from you."

Naturally, some schools recruiting Neal have made their intentions known which side of the ball they would like to see him line up at. Yet, the Chaparral star truly welcomes Erickson's approach on the matter.

"With Erickson it's like having a father that has been around you all of your life," Neal commented, "and the other schools are like relatives. I'm comfortable in Arizona because this is my home. I'm not saying I won't be comfortable outside my home but that will be my extended family and not my close family. Knowing coach Erickson being on the sideline with him (as a ball boy) you know how he coaches and that makes it's hard to leave the state.

"He (Erickson) never asked me about which position I want to play. He always asks me about school, college degree…like a father he's not just worried about football. He talks to me about education, my family and trying to get to know me. That's a great thing because he's always fun to be around with. He really knows who you are as a person, not just as a player."

The competitive nature of Neal drives him to strive and be a two-way player at the college level too. He feels that he not only has the physical tools to do that but also the mental makeup.

"I won the state championship on Monday and I was back on Wednesday working out," Neal recalled. "I want to go to a place where I know I will have to compete everyday for my spot or someone else's spot. Once I get that spot it will be hard to get it away from me.

"It's not a track meet but it's a cross country race. It's about being consistent and seeing who can go the longest."

One of Neal's most recent offers came from Auburn who joins schools such as LSU, Arkansas, Arizona, UCLA, and USC among others who have been pursuing Neal in earnest during his junior season.

Neal plans to attend both Junior Day and the Maroon and Gold summer camp at ASU. Additionally, he plans to unofficially visit Northwestern, Illinois and Penn State in the spring or summer.

The Chaparral standout pointed out that he wants to focus on football and his academics during his senior campaign. Therefore, he doesn't plan to make any decision on a commitment before he takes his official visits at the culmination of his season.

"I want to go to a school that can win their conference and win a national championship," Neal said. "The relationship I have with the coach and the teammates is obviously very important. I know ASU is recruiting my teammates Pete Greene and Cody Ippolito and it will fun playing with them and also with players I played against in high school.

"I know I'm not going to satisfy everyone with my decision. But I'm the one who has to wake up every morning at some school for the next four years so I have to be happy with my decision. After my visits I'm going to spend some time with my dad and see what the best situation for me is."

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