Well, Oklahoma's latest coaching staff addition wasted literally no time in hitting the recruiting trail. On the same day he was officially announced as a member of the Sooner staff, the former Arizona DC was in the home of stud wide receiver Davonte Neal.
His film, uh wow! Whatever he may lack in size (5'10" 175) he more than makes up for and then some in straight speed. You can also watch his exceptional balance on the film above and his ability, even for a "smaller" guy, to absorb a hit, keep his feet, and accelerate in the blink of an eye. If this kid gets the ball in even the tiniest of spaces, it's game over. Much like the other Neal (Durron) in OU's class, Davonte Neal is a guy that could come in as a true freshman and make an immediate impact on special teams with his exceptional return skills.
Neal has stated that he does not expect to make a decision until after signing day, which is somewhat rare but well within the rules of recruiting. Wednesday, February 1st, is just the first official day kids can sign but they're not required to do so on that day alone. Neal currently holds offers from Arizona, Arkansas, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and Ohio State among many others. He has two official visits remaining, one of which will be to North Carolina this coming weekend and the second of which is to near by Arizona two weeks after the UNC trip. However as you'll see in the interview after the jump, Neal and his family may be rethinking that Arizona trip with Oklahoma's late interest and their connection with Coach Kish.
As usual, SoonerScoop with their exceptional coverage was able to get an interview with Neal's father, Luke, and got his thoughts on Coach Kish's visit.
"He (Kish) was announced yesterday, and he was here yesterday. He was here for about two and a half hours, it was great catching up with coach Kish," Luke Neal explained. "We have some history, being in Arizona and with him a coach at UA we had an open communication. Even in the eighth grade coach Kish was talking about Davonte, coach Kish has a good history with us; he is a class act.
"He is very personable. He is very family oriented and tells you how it is, I respect that out of coach Kish's character and his coaching style. We all like and admire coach Kish, he is not just a coach but more of a family friend."
In addition to Kish's previous relationship with the Neal family, the Sooners also have another unexpected connection to the talented AZ prospect.
"I think it's a great door-opener we had some limited knowledge of Oklahoma because one of my athletes that works out with me, Mossis Madu, he worked out with us last year and he is one of my clients that I work with," Neal explained. "We knew of Oklahoma because of him being here, but when coach Kish came in, Oklahoma was now more local to us and that's where it is now.
"There is a communication now, a dialogue now I spoke to Bob Stoops today, - he called me today and we spoke and I expressed my thoughts to him and he told me they want Davonte there.
"I told him the same thing we told coach Kish, we're excited to have the conversation going, it's a great start that is a national program, they have a lot to offer, and we're going to listen. Davonte is scheduled to take his last official on Feb. 10 to Arizona, but at the end of the day he has to decide what he wants to do.
"Coach Kish being in the situation, I'm not saying anything different, but it puts Oklahoma in a different light and it puts coach Kish in a different light.
"I definitely think that visit was set up with Arizona, it is definitely still intended to be taken but, again I can say that for right now."
Neal says the Sooners expressed interested in his sown as a receiver and special teams difference-maker. Interestingly the relationship with Kish gives his parents peace of mind about a school that they, otherwise, have little to know knowledge of.
According to Neal's father, there is little doubt as to why Oklahoma, despite getting in very late in the process, is now under consideration.
"Coach Kish being in the situation, I'm not saying anything different, but it puts Oklahoma in a different light and it puts coach Kish in a different light."
Couple quick things I wanted to address briefly before we end this. First, I've already read some speculation that an offer this late to another wide receiver is some kind of indication that the OU coaches know they're out of it with DGB. And while I can't definitively say that's not true because nobody actually knows what DGB is thinking, I do very much believe this is more of a case of OU's new coach having an "in" with the family and OU taking advantage of that fact by gauging the young man's interest. As you can clearly see from his film, Neal is the kind of player you make room for in a recruiting class. So don't just immediately write DGB off, though as we've said here for awhile Arkansas is still the likely favorite to land DGB.
Second, because I can already hear it, don't get carried away with the "See you moron! Still want to question Kish as a recruiter?" for the people here, like myself, who were vocal in our skepticism of Kish when the hire was announced. Obviously there is no denying the numerous positive things Neal's father had to say about Kish in that interview. And I don't doubt for a second that they are all true. But at the same time, this was a previously established relationship and while incredibly talented it's still just one player who at least for the moment hasn't (1) scheduled a visit yet or (2) committed. So while I'm definitely not saying Kish deserves no credit for this, try to avoid the knee jerk reaction of blindly singing his praises based on this one story.
Knee jerk reaction you say? You mean like when you had said knee jerk reaction to the hire and criticized the guy and questioned his recruiting ability before he had even stepped foot on campus?
Yeah. Exactly like that. ;)