Notre Dame came away with the 17th member of its 2012 recruiting class after one of the wildest recruiting sagas came to a close Tuesday.
Davonte Neal, a four-star prospect, signed with the Irish, the university announced.
But there was plenty of drama before Notre Dame landed the playmaking receiver it desperately craved during this recruiting cycle.
Neal, from Scottsdale Ariz., was scheduled to announce his college choice at his elementary school Tuesday morning. But he did not show up for the planned event that featured 600 students from Kyrene de la Esperanza Elementary School and was carried live by the local Fox Sports affiliate, according to reports.
Neal returned to the school later in the day to make his decision official, but without the assembly. He reportedly plans to apologize to the students for not coming to the assembly at a later date.
"Deciding on a college is one of the toughest decisions a young player makes in his life, so we are very pleased with Davonte's decision to attend Notre Dame," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. "Davonte was an electric playmaker in high school and was capable of making the big play any time he had the ball in his hands. He excelled as a receiver, as a running back and as a returner for Coach (Charlie) Ragle at Chaparral High School. I imagine we'll use him in a similar fashion here."
Neal's decision was held up because his father, Luke, wanted his son to attend Notre Dame, while the player was leaning toward staying close to home and play at Arizona, according to reports. Neal told Irish Sports Daily that "family issues" delayed his announcement.
Neal softens the blow the Irish took on national signing day when receiver Deontay Greenberry spurned Notre Dame to sign with Houston.
The 5-foot-10 Neal was named a Parade All-American after his senior season. He caught 62 passes for 1,113 yards with 16 touchdowns and ran for 1,317 yards with 14 touchdowns.
Neal also performed on special teams, returning three kickoffs for touchdowns and two puts for scores.
"Davonte is a great complement for our 2012 recruiting class," Kelly said. "As I said almost three weeks ago, we wanted to add more skill players to our team and we did a nice job of doing that. I look forward to coaching Davonte and the rest of his class this fall."