Trying to figure out the thought process of an 18-year-old — any 18-year-old — is a fool's errand. (Which might explain why I had bleached hair, wore a hemp chain and attended Dave Matthews Band concerts when I was that age).
But Scottsdale Chaparral wide receiver/cornerback Davonte Neal may be leaning toward the UA as his decision day nears, according to this report in the Arizona Republic.
Republic reporter Richard Obert, who has documented Neal's well-publicized recruitment from the beginning, writes today that Neal has already made up his mind — and that Arizona might not be the longshot that many think it is. Neal announced last week that he's narrowed his finalists down to Notre Dame, Arkansas, Arizona and North Carolina.
Neal's father, Luke, told The Republic that the recent death of Neal's younger cousin — the "family issue" that forced him to cancel a planned official visit to Tucson — clarified a tough decision. The winning program, Luke Neal said is "the best school for him … because of everything that happened to him.
"He's had time to think, reflect on what has happened to him. Having played football in Arizona, he had time to think whether he wants to stay in Arizona or leave Arizona. He put it in more perspective on what's best for him."
Arizona can offer the best support system for Neal, who the Scout.com recruiting service lists as a four-star recruit and the nation's fifth-best cornerback prospect. Former Chaparral coach Charlie Ragle serves as the Wildcats' new liaison to in-state high schools, and the UA just signed two of Neal's best friends and former teammates — linebacker Cody Ippolito and defensive end Dylan Cozens — to national letters of intent. But Notre Dame and Arkansas can offer a history of success and access to great facilities that don't yet exist here. North Carolina is a bit of a wild card; Neal has family in the state.
Luke Neal isn't likely to offer any more hints before Tuesday, when Neal is scheduled to make his announcement at his old elementary school. The family has asked Neal's new program to keep quiet, too, meaning one thing: The Davonte Neal sweepstakes are going to last another five days, even though the star has already reportedly made up his mind.
I'll kill time by listening to "Satellite" and "Jimi Thing" on an endless loop. My 18-year-old self would be proud.