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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Davonte Neal fiasco should be a lesson to all

Very rarely does a winner emerge from the charade that recruiting in major college athletics has become.

Schools get caught up in chasing what might be the next big thing. Players get caught up in leaving their mark on the communities they’re leaving and joining. Parents get caught up in trying to take over their sons’ decision, preaching that they know best and that he should learn from their mistakes.

Unfortunately for Notre Dame commit Davonte’ Neal, he became the latest example of what’s wrong with the process on Tuesday — failing to show up at a scheduled 9:30 a.m. announcement that drew 600 elementary school kids from class after what The Arizona Republic said was a quarrel with his father, Luke Neal, over the decision.

Davonte’ Neal wanted to be the next big thing at Arizona. Luke Neal wanted to be the next big thing at Notre Dame.

Luke Neal won.

It’s hard to blame Davonte’ Neal. Saying no to a parent is never easy, especially as an 18-year-old high school student. But that’s where the problem arises — a parent should never have a chance to steal the spotlight.

In fact, the spotlight shouldn’t even be there.

Recruiting has become almost as large as the games themselves. That needs to stop.

It needs to stop for the athletes who are stuck with parents whose eyes light up at the mere thought of being mentioned in a newspaper or on TV. It needs to stop for the kids that didn’t go to the school of their choice, only to ultimately transfer or give up their sport.

But most of all, it needs to stop because these players end up flopping on the next level just as often as they’re successful. Take a look at the players over the past several years whose recruitment has turned into a circus-like sideshow.

Terrelle Pryor, the No. 1 overall football recruit in 2008, took Ohio State to three straight BCS games but was part of the group that forced head coach Jim Tressel to resign and got the school placed on a one-year bowl ban. Pryor hasn’t taken a snap at quarterback in the NFL after being forced to either leave school a year early or face a lengthy suspension as a senior.

Bryce Brown, the No. 1 overall football recruit in 2009, committed to Miami. Then he committed to Tennessee. Then Brown transferred to Kansas State. He hasn’t played football since his freshman season, when the running back averaged 38.3 yards per game.

Seantrel Henderson, the No. 1 overall football recruit in 2010, opted out of his letter of intent to play at USC and chose to head to Miami while he was used as a pawn by his father, who was searching for the best location to attempt a rap career. He started two games last season as a sophomore.

Sure, Davonte’ Neal made average high school players in Arizona look like they were standing still. Is that something worth pulling 600 elementary school kids out of class for, especially when it was only to see him and his father do nearly the exact opposite of what they would have been taught?

What happened Tuesday morning should be a lesson. Maybe the pressure of the decision got to Davonte’ Neal. Maybe it was the pressure of making his father happy. Maybe it was a legitimate family emergency. We’ll likely never know.

But what we do know is that Tuesday’s shit show is the latest chapter in the masquerade that’s being a highly touted recruit — a chapter that, once again, produced nothing but losers.

— Alex Williams is the sports editor. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatSports .

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