Just a little over a year after a National Letter of Intent signing debacle, Davonte’ Neal has decided to take his leave of the Notre Dame football program.
While the school has yet to announce it, Neal’s father Luke Neal confirmed to the 247Sports.com website BlueandGold.com that his son is transferring from the Irish. Neal has already informed head coach Brian Kelly of his decision, and the Arizona native has a one-way ticket for a Thursday flight out of South Bend.
Luke Neal stated that the decision to move back closer to his Arizona hometown is one that has been a few months in the making and was based on one factor completely unrelated to his son’s experience at the South Bend school — fatherhood.
“The reason for Davonte’s transfer is that he’s the father of a six-week old baby girl (Baylee) with his girlfriend (Marie Burton) that he has dated since seventh grade,” said Luke Neal, Davonte’s father, of his granddaughter that was born on Feb. 2. “The plan was to move his girlfriend and his baby to South Bend, but Davonte’ just felt the need to be closer to his family and his girlfriend’s family at this time.
“It’s a situation that I’ve been talking to Davonte’ about the past four months through his girlfriend’s pregnancy, and he’s finally realized he wants to be involved in his daughter’s life closer than from a distance at Notre Dame.”
The elder Neal added that a transfer to a California school “would most likely be a better fit for Davonte’ because of my relationships there and being from there.” The wide receiver had four finalists leading up to his signing nearly two weeks after National Signing Day began last year; along with Notre Dame, Arizona, Arkansas and North Carolina were in the player’s final four. Based on the father’s words, however, none of those programs will be under consideration during this second recruiting go around.
Neal was a four-star member of the Irish’s 2012 class, rated as the No. 17 receiver in the country. He played sparingly on offense as a true freshman, catching one pass for minus-five yards. Neal’s biggest role came on special teams as he returned 21 punts for 46 yards.
Neal becomes the second high-profile member of last year’s Irish recruiting class to transfer this month. The No. 1 quarterback in the country in 2012, Gunner Kiel flipped his LSU verbal commitment to a Notre Dame signing shortly before signing day. A week ago Wednesday, the Irish announced, after much speculation, that Kiel had asked for and been granted a release from his scholarship.
As far as kickers go, this is a rather significant development.
Last week, Wisconsin’s Rafael Gaglianone did not make the trip to East Lansing for the Michigan State game because of a back issue. Not only will the placekicker miss this Saturday’s game against No. 4 Michigan, he will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2016 season after undergoing back surgery.
According to the school, Gaglianone’s condition improved Sunday but subsequently worsened. It was then decided that the junior would undergo the medical procedure.
A similar back injury, the school said, led Gaglianone to miss spring practice last year.
“You’re disappointed for Rafael because of all the work he’s put in and how well he was playing,” head coach Paul Chryst said in a statement. “From a football perspective, I’ve appreciated the way the other guys in that unit have responded this week.”
This season, Gaglianone has connected on seven of eight field goal attempts and all 10 extra points. Included in that total was what turned out to be the game-winning field goal in the opener against LSU at Lambeau Field.
Including this season, Gaglianone, who will be eligible for a medical hardship waiver, has been good on 44-57 field goals in his career and all but two of his 111 point afters.
With Gaglianone sidelined, the Badgers will turn to Andrew Endicott. The senior, who hadn’t previously attempted a field goal or extra point at the collegiate level, made 1-1 of the former and 3-4 of the latter in replacing Gaglianone against MSU.
And now we know a little bit more of the rest of the story.
Thursday morning, reports surfaced that Alabama linebacker Tim Williams had been arrested for carrying a pistol without a permit. Other than the fact that Williams was arrested by university police officers, no details were available. Until now.
Williams was arrested in the Tuscaloosa Publix parking lot around 2:00 a.m., sources told AL.com.
Police officers were doing a normal patrol when they smelled marijuana coming from Williams’ vehicle, according to sources. A passenger, who was not an Alabama football player, said the marijuana was his, but the officer then found the pistol under Williams’ seat while searching the car, according to sources.
The school has yet to publicly comment on the situation, although the player took to Twitter to acknowledge “a mistake.”
Coming off a 2015 season in which he was second on the Tide with 10.5 sacks, Phil Steele named the senior as a preseason first-team All-American.
A significant piece of Duke offensive puzzle won’t be available to the Blue Devils in Week 5.
On its weekly injury report released Thursday, Duke announced that Jela Duncan will not play against Virginia Saturday because of an unspecified leg injury. The running back sustained the injury in the 38-35 win over Notre Dame last weekend.
With 314 yards, Duncan is far and away the Blue Devils’ leading rusher. Next closest is Shaun Wilson‘s 122 yards.
Duncan, a senior who’s endured a rocky career thus far, also leads the team with four rushing touchdowns, while his 5.6 yards per carry is tops amongst Blue Devils with 10 or more carries.
The football program also confirmed that defensive end Dominic McDonald will miss a second straight game because of what’s described as an upper-body injury. McDonald started the first three games of the season before missing the Notre Dame game with the same injury.
And, finally, the school announced that linebacker Tinashe Bere will be sidelined for the remainder of the season with a leg injury. While he didn’t start any of the four games in which he played this season after starting six last year, he’s sixth on the team in tackles with 13.
Depending on your point of view, James Franklin‘s boss has either given the Penn State head coach a needed vote of confidence… or the dreaded vote of confidence.
With an underwhelming 14-12 record heading into his third year, Franklin’s Nittany Lions have continued to underwhelm with a 2-2 record through the first third of the 2016 season. Following a 39-point loss to Michigan, Franklin’s record against the Big Three in the B1G East — UM, Michigan State, Ohio State — dropped to 0-7. Not only have the Nittany Lions lost all seven, they’ve lost those seven by an average of 22 points per game. Five of those losses were by at least 12 points, with four of those coming by 24 or more.
The fact that the Nittany Lions aren’t even remotely ready to compete in their own division let alone nationally has led to renewed chatter that, by season’s end, Franklin could either be sitting on the hot seat or standing in the unemployment line. Wednesday, PSU athletic director Sandy Barbour used a Chamber of Commerce appearance to very stridently and publicly defend her head coach.
From Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror:
James is not on any hot seat,” Barbour said Wednesday.
“He’s not on the hot seat, and he’s not going to be on the hot seat in December,” Barbour said.
“James is going to be our football coach,” the AD added. “I believe in where this football program is going under James Franklin, and I think he’s going to be our football coach, period.”
“I think I’ve been really, really clear on I think he’s doing a spectacular job as a teacher, as a coach, as a leader of these young men,” she said. “That’s really, really important to Penn State. He and his staff are absolutely nailing that.
Barring a complete and total collapse between now and the end of November, Franklin will get a fourth season. Heading into that fourth year, however, he will very likely be on the hot seat on which Barbour currently swears he doesn’t currently sit.