Notebook: Transfer Neal likely to sit out season

2013-07-27T00:00:00Z 2013-07-27T09:45:28Z Notebook: Transfer Neal likely to sit out seasonDaniel Berk and Zack Rosenblatt Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

CULVER CITY, Calif. - Davonte' Neal is officially a member of the Arizona Wildcats. But don't expect to see him dashing through Pac-12 defenses anytime soon.

The UA released an updated roster Friday at Pac-12 media day at the Sony Studios, and Neal's name is on it. The former Scottsdale Chaparral High School star, who played as a true freshman at Notre Dame before transferring to Arizona, will wear No. 19 for the Wildcats.

He likely won't see the field until 2014, however. Neal left Notre Dame to be closer to his newborn daughter and girlfriend in Scottsdale. It's a reason that likely won't be good enough for the NCAA to let him play right away. Like most transfers, it looks as if Neal - who was pursuing a hardship waiver - will have to sit out a year.

"I don't believe he's going to be eligible," UA coach Rich Rodriguez said.

Neal would have provided a big boost to a wide receiver group that has been decimated by injuries and departures. The playmaker would have helped make up for the absence of Austin Hill, who is recovering from a torn ACL and Tyler Slavin, who left the program last month.

While Neal was on the roster, there were four incoming recruits who weren't. Freshmen T.J. Johnson, Lee Walker and Mauriece Lee have all been declared academically ineligible and won't enroll at the UA. Johnson and Lee are both wide receivers. Johnson was listed as a three-star recruit by the Scout.com recruiting service and Lee a two-star. Walker, a high school teammate of freshman running back Pierre Cormier, was rated as a three-star cornerback.

Also missing from the roster was center David Maka. He's eligible to play, but opted not to join the Wildcats once he arrived on campus.

"I saw him once, but that's about all," Rodriguez said of the three-star recruit. "He was on campus. I don't know if he went to class; that was an issue. I don't know if the strength coach saw him; that was an issue.

"There was a perceived sighting of him, but it might have been a ghost, who knows?"

Safety changes

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott announced that the conference and all of its coaches agreed on a new contact policy that goes further than the limitations already imposed by the NCAA.

Teams will be limited to two full-contact practices per week during the regular season and spring drills. Contact during two-a-days in fall camp will be limited to 50 percent of one practice.

"As a coach, you have to be concerned about the welfare of your team," Rodriguez said. "Most of the coaches in our league and most throughout the country are already kinda doing that anyway."

Rodriguez on recruiting

If Rodriguez had it his way, he'd make some changes to the NCAA's recruiting rules.

The UA coach said he'd like to see an early signing period in December before the traditional signing day in February.

"Unofficial visits are becoming more important than official visits, because that's when kids are making their minds up," he said. "So that's why there should be an early signing period the third week of December. It's crazy that there isn't. A lot of coaches are in favor of it. It will put some sanity back in this commitment stuff."

Rodriguez also wants a "dead period" in July to give assistant coaches more time with their families.

Extra points

• It's been 349 days since the Pac-12 Network launched, making it 349 days that DirecTV users have been unable to watch the network. It might be another 349 days, if Scott's comments on Friday are any indication. He said negotiations are "still at an impasse."

• Inspired by HBO's popular "Hard Knocks" series that goes behind-the-scenes of one team's NFL training camp, the Pac-12 Network will debut its similarly themed "The Drive" this season, network president Lydia Murphy-Stephans said.

There will be film crews at two as-of-yet unannounced Pac-12 schools.

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