CoachSpeak: Neal Has Work Ethic, Leadership

Davonte' Neal brought his recruitment saga to an end Tuesday when he signed with Notre Dame. The four-star athlete from Chaparral High (Scottsdale, Ariz.) excelled in all aspects of the game, and his coach spoke to IrishEyes.com to explain what the Irish are getting.

Lost in a lot of the drama in the recruited and protracted announcement involving Davonte' Neal is one key thing …the kid is very talented, and very explosive.

So much so that Chaparral High (Scottsdale, Ariz.) Dave Huffine, who served as the program's offensive coordinator until last month, played him at four positions on offense, two more on defense and used the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Neal in the return game as well.

It is the type of talent that made Notre Dame, as well as Arkansas, North Carolina and Arizona, willing to wait three weeks past signing day to get him.

But lost in all the hubbub of his recruitment, and the ugliness of not showing up to a grammar school assembly with hundreds of kids waiting for his announcement, is what Neal brings to a team.

"He's the hardest worker on the football team and when your hardest worker is your best football player, it kind of rubs off on everybody else," Huffine said. "He's a tremendous leader, tremendous competitor.

"He's not a kid that is high maintenance. He's got a strong work ethic. He puts every ounce he can to making himself better, making the team better. It's not all about him and he knows that."

Neal is heading to Notre Dame to play slot receiver, Huffine said, but as his talent evolves, Neal has the ability to impact in a lot of areas.

As a senior, he rushed for 1,317 yards and 16 touchdowns on 100 carries. He caught 62 passes for 1,113 yards and 14 scores and also had five special teams touchdowns.

"We used him everywhere," Huffine said. "We played him at wide receiver, we played him at slot, we put him at quarterback, running back. We put him everywhere we possibly could. He's a dynamic football player. He's one of those one-in-a-million kids that come around and can simply do it all.

"Due to his size at the Division I level, I would say either corner or slot (and) kick returner. From what I hear, it's probably going to be a slot receiver type of thing, get the ball in his hands where he has space to work with and made plays."

Huffine added Neal's ability to change direction stands out the most.

"We probably had some kids that were fast, if not a little bit faster," Huffine said. "But his balance, his agility, his ability to change direction, start and stop on a dime, I've never seen it in a kid like this. When he's got the ball in his hands, he's electric.

"He's going to do big things for them. He's going to be one of those kids that they're really going to lick their chops to get and try to find different ways to get him the football. It's going to fun for him."


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