Arizona receiver warms up quickly to Klenakis

By: Richard Davenport Richard Davenport's Twitter account
Published: Sunday, December 11, 2011

— Arkansas offensive line coach Chris Klenakis’ in home visit with Arizona receiver Davonte Neal was a hit Monday night.

Neal plays for Scottsdale Chaparral High School and is rated as the No. 17 recruit in the nation by CBS College Sports national recruiting analyst To m Lemming. Arkansas, Arizona, Arizona State, LSU, Ohio State, Auburn, UCLA are among approximately 50 schools that have offered scholarships.

Neal, 5-10, 172 pounds, 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash, said the thing that caught his attention the most was Klenakis’ energy.

“He was really strong with his points like the tradition, the coaching staff, the athletic facilities,” Neal said. “That’s one thing I like about a coach, a coach that can open up to you right away. That’s what I feel like Coach K did.

“He was real nice guy. I just loved it.”

Neal, who was recently named the Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year for a second consecutive season, rushed 100 times for 1,317 yards and 16 touchdowns and had 62 receptions for 1,113 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior.

The visit allowed Neal and his father, Luke, a chance to get better acquainted with Klenakis and set up an official visit for the Jan. 20-22 weekend.

“There’s nothing in my mind that tells me anything bad can come from Coach K,” Neal said. “He’s a great coach. He gives Arkansas a really good name just by this home visit.”

Lemming said Neal is one of the more exciting players in the country.

“He’s an impact player on offense as a running back, as a receiver, as a kick returner,” Lemming said. “He’s guy that can do it all. He’s one of the more explosive players in the country.”

Neal and Arkansas’ offense are a good match, Lemming said.

“He’s better suited to play in that type of Spread offense where you can get him out in space,” Lemming said. “He’s a guy that creates a lot of mismatches because of his speed and ability to separate from a defender.”

Neal said Klenakis made sure to point out the success of Arkansas’ passing game, which has led the SEC the past two seasons.

“That was a big thing,” Neal said. “Of course, they’re recruiting me as a receiver, so that’s what receivers like to hear.”

Neal’s speed and elusiveness remind some of Razorbacks receiver Joe Adams,who was named All-SEC by the league’s coaches as an all purpose athlete, SEC Special Teams Player of the Year and a Walter Camp All-American.

“He’s a dynamic guy,” Neal said. “He can move. He can run the ball. He can pretty much do whatever he wants with the ball. Arkansas does a really good job of getting the ball in his hands.” ALLEN IMPRESSIVE

Fayetteville junior Austin Allen helped his cause with his performance last weekend in the Bulldogs’ 29-28 victory over Bentonville in the Class 7A state championship game.

Allen, 6-2, 210, 4.7, showed a strong and accurate arm while displaying an excellent ability on touch passes. He completed 27 of 41 passes for 376 yards with 4 touchdowns and only 1 interception.

“He has as good an arm as anyone in the nation,” Fayetteville Coach Daryl Patton said. “That’s why I truly believe he’s going to be one of the top five quarterbacks in the nation next season. He’s a very smart quarterback and knows what type of ball to deliver and how to deliver it.”

Allen, who has scholarship offers from Ole Miss and Tulsa, showed grit during the season while working behind an inexperienced offensive line.

“I thought during the season he showed a lot of Tyler Wilson toughness,” Patton said. “He got hit while the young offensive line was going through some growing pains earlier in the year.”

The Bulldogs feature other talented junior prospects as well,including linebacker Brooks Ellis, receiver/defensive back Alex Brignoni and running back Brice Gahagans.

Ellis, 6-2, 218, 4.7, was the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Sophomore Defensive Player of the Year last season. Arkansas and numerous other schools are showing interest in him.

“When colleges come in to look at other players, the first thing they always say is who in the heck is No. 13?” Patton said. “He was a sophomore All-American last year. He’s going to get bigger and stronger during the off season and have every school in the country recruiting him.”

Brignoni, 6-0, 190, 4.5, recorded 10 tackles and had 2 receptions for 67 yards and 1 touchdown against Bentonville.

“He may well be the best athlete we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Patton said. “He can run and make plays and break on the football. He leads our team in tackles this year.”

Patton also praised Gahagans and said he believes he has a bright future.

E-mail Richard Davenport at

Sports, Pages 31 on 12/11/2011


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