Arizona football notes: NCAA benches Notre Dame transfer DaVonte’ Neal
Arizona football sophomore receiver DaVonte’ Neal’s hardship waiver, which would determine whether or not he plays this season, was turned down by the NCAA, head coach Rich Rodriguez said in his weekly press conference.
“He’s been denied eligibility,” Rodriguez said. “So, that’s a little disappointing — it’s more than a little disappointing.”
This was the second appeal filed with the NCAA.
Neal transferred from Notre Dame in the spring and filed a hardship waiver in hopes of playing immediately this season. Instead, Neal has been waiting all season for a verdict to the appeal.
Rodriguez explained that he didn’t understand the intricacies of the ruling, but that being inconsistent was characteristic of the NCAA.
“The NCAA is consistent with being inconsistent,” Rodriguez said.
Neal has been taking the process and the rulings very well, according to Rodriguez.
“I’ve been really proud of his demeanor,” Rodriguez said. “In practice he’s taking every rep like it’s a Super Bowl rep…He has a great attitude.”
There is another appeal in the works, Rodriguez said, but it doesn’t look promising.
Kicker named all-conference after making first field goals
Senior kicker Jake Smith was named the Pac-12 special teams Player of the Week, the conference announced Monday. Smith was also named Arizona’s special team player of the week.
“It’s pretty cool,” Smith said. “I definitely like being the team’s special team Player of the Week, but the Pac-12 is the gravy on top.”
On Saturday, against UNLV, Smith scored 16 points by kicking, which is a school record. Smith, in his first season at Arizona, scored the first field goal of his career on Saturday. He missed a 51-yard field goal attempt his freshman year at Penn State, and missed another attempt last week versus NAU. He is now 3-of-5 in field goal attempts this season.
Rodriguez said Smith has responded well to the adversity he has faced in his career, and he is proud of Smith’s performance on Saturday.
“He’s worked hard,” Rodriguez said. “Coming back from injury and the trials and tribulations of sitting out with transfers — we’re proud of the way Jake has responded.”
Smith transferred to the UA from Youngstown State after starting his career at Syracuse. At the end of the day, Smith said he is happy to be playing for the Wildcats.
“It’s definitely been a long road,” Smith said. “But I’m happy with where I’m at today.”
UTSA features potent offense
Rodriguez said that this upcoming game against the UTSA Roadrunners will be a true test of Arizona’s defense. The Roadrunners lost 56-35 against Oklahoma State, a team Mississippi State could only score 3 points against.
Rodriguez said the team will spend time watching film this week in order to prepare for the game. Arizona’s defense has not shown any troubling signs in the past two games, as it has only allowed 13 points.
Senior defensive lineman Tevin Hood says he’s not concerned about the upcoming contest with UTSA.
“We’ll watch the film,” Hood said. “They run a different scheme and everything but I’m confident in our defense.”
The Wildcats will play the Roadrunners at Arizona Stadium Saturday at 7:30 p.m.