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August 4, 2012

Newcomers: Can Neal replace Floyd?

MORE: Newcomers: Pac-12 | Big Ten

We've spent the last week listing the true freshmen and junior-college transfers who could make the biggest impact in the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC.

But there are plenty of newcomers from outside those conferences who also could have big seasons.

Pittsburgh welcomes in a record-setting running back from the Pennsylvania high school ranks. Rutgers and Boise State both have promising pass rushers, one from a high school and one from a junior college.

And then there's the case of the receiver who almost signed with Notre Dame and the one who actually did join the Fighting Irish.

The Notre Dame-bound receiver must help the Irish replace first-round draft pick Michael Floyd, while the one who spurned the Irish will try to make sure Houston continues to thrive in the post-Case Keenum era.

WR Deontay Greenberry
Particulars: 6-3/187; Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union
Recruiting rating: Four stars (No. 7 wide receiver and No. 49 overall prospect in 2012 recruiting class)
Buzz: Greenberry pulled off the biggest shocker of National Signing Day when he opted for Houston after being committed to Notre Dame for eight months. He became the first Rivals100 prospect to sign with Houston since the current version of Rivals.com started in 2002. Greenberry caught 109 passes for 2,165 yards and 33 touchdowns last season and set California state prep single-season records in the latter two categories. He should feel right at home playing for a team that traditionally boasts one of the nation's most potent passing attacks.

DE Darius Hamilton
Particulars: 6-4/260; Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep
Recruiting rating: Five stars (No. 2 strong-side defensive end and No. 11 overall prospect in 2012 class)
Buzz: Hamilton is the highest-rated prospect to sign with Rutgers since the current version of Rivals.com started in 2002. He also is the first five-star recruit to join the Scarlet Knights since defensive tackle Nate Robinson enrolled at Rutgers as the nation's No. 15 overall recruit in 2003. Hamilton remained committed to Rutgers even after former Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano left for the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hamilton collected 21 sacks in his senior season, including four in a state championship game victory. Rutgers is well stocked at defensive end, as seniors Ka'lial Glaud and Marvin Booker and juniors Michael Larrow and Marcus Thompson all made at least one start last season. But Hamilton's talent demands he will find his way onto the field this fall.

DE Demarcus Lawrence
Particulars: 6-3/241; Butler (Kan.) Community College
Recruiting rating: Three stars (No. 38 junior college prospect in 2012 class)
Buzz: Lawrence arrived on Boise State's campus in time for spring practice and performed well enough to put himself in the mix for a starting spot. Boise State needs plenty of reinforcements as it attempts to replace Chicago Bears' first-round draft pick Shea McClellin, Tyrone Crawford, Billy Winn, Chase Baker and Jarrell Root on the defensive line. Lawrence collected 27 tackles for loss and 10 sacks last season to earn second-team National Junior College Athletic Association All-America honors.

WR Davonte Neal
Particulars: 5-10/175; Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral
Recruiting rating: Four stars (No. 17 wide receiver and No. 107 overall prospect in 2012 class)
Buzz: Notre Dame needs a playmaker in its receiving corps as it attempts to replace Arizona Cardinals' first-round draft pick Michael Floyd, who ended his college career owning virtually all of the school's major receiving records. Neal certainly showed that kind of big-play ability in high school. He caught 62 passes for 1,113 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushed for 1,317 yards and 14 more scores in his senior year. He also scored on three kickoff returns and two punt returns. Neal didn't end his recruitment until three weeks after Signing Day and therefore was unable to enroll in time for spring practice, but he has the skill and athleticism to contribute immediately.

RB Rushel Shell
Particulars: 6-0/215; Aliquippa (Pa.) Hopewell
Recruiting rating: Four stars (No. 6 running back and No. 55 overall player in 2012 class).
Buzz: Pittsburgh's offensive backfield already includes senior Ray Graham, who rushed for more than 900 yards each of the last two years. But we still have a feeling the Panthers are going to find plenty of carries for Shell. For one thing, Graham is returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament and may need some time to work his way back into peak form. New Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst also occasionally showed a willingness to have multiple backs split carries during his years as Wisconsin's offensive coordinator. Shell rushed for a Pennsylvania state record 9,078 yards and scored 110 touchdowns in his high school career. He also set a national high school record by rushing for at least 100 yards in 39 consecutive games.


Steve Megargee is the national college columnist for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.



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