Friday, February 24, 2012

Davonte Neal is Focused on the 'Right' Things Despite Shameless and Presumptuous Media Backlash

Davonte Neal is not your typical high school football star. While also starring in track and field he's had people, even from opposing teams, stop what they're doing just to watch him run.

So when the #1 rated "athlete" was set to announce where he would attend college in 2012, many eyes were on him. Most stars choose to announce their decisions at one of the big all-star games, such as the Under Armour or Army All-American games. Others choose to announce from their high schools.

Neal took an unusual route, electing to make his announcement at his elementary school. Perhaps the trend of NFL players announcing which high school, middle school or elementary school they attended is catching on.

Or perhaps, as this ESPN article so eloquently explains, he wanted to share the good news at a place that helped guide him through a difficult time in his life.

This post is not about Davonte Neal's decision or credentials on the football field, though if you are so inclined have a look at the following highlight video.

No, this post is about why one should never judge a book by its cover. Nearly all other high school footbal players headed to play collegiate football had already made their announcements on National Signing Day at the beginning of February. So there was a strong contingent from the media waiting eagerly to hear Neal's decision.

Neal was nowhere to be seen, though. After hours of no response from either he or his father, the school cancelled the conference. Rumors circulated that Neal was not a man of character because he was a no-show. After all, who doesn't show up for their own parade?

But, as Neal's father shared, his family was dealing with a very personal, tragic crisis within the family.

Neal's story is another sad story of how vile the recruiting process can be. I am refraining from providing any examples of the media firestorm Neal and his family experienced as a result of the press conference. If you are so inclined, search Twitter or Google.

Can you imagine if 'regular' students' decisions were analyzed, over-analyzed, and re-analyzed the way football, basketball, baseball and hockey recruits are? It is a an unfortunate part that comes along with the territory, but by no means is it a necessary evil.

During this time of Lent, I challenge you to reflect on what you can control in your life and how you can create positivity rather than focus on others' actions and add negativity to the world.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Neal family during this time of hardship in their lives. If only others would have stopped to think about the positive nature surrounding the event - a life-changing decision for Neal and his family.

Welcome to the Notre Dame family, Davonte. We believe in you!

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