Coach Brian Kelly also said running back Amir Carlisle, a transfer from Southern California who missed all of last season with a leg injury, is out for the rest of spring practice after undergoing surgery Tuesday for a broken right collarbone, and defensive end Chase Hounshell will miss the 2013 season with the same shoulder injury that kept him out last season.
Kelly would not discuss the reasons why Neal and Ferguson decided to leave.
"All I can tell you is that when we break to start to stretch and they're not out there, they're no longer on the roster," Kelly said Wednesday.
Kelly said he's never surprised by players transferring, saying it's part of college football.
"There will be more guys leaving, there will be more guys coming," Kelly said. "This is a process that every year you go through. You're going to have some additions; you're going to have some deletions."
Neal and Ferguson are the third and fourth members of the 2012 class to leave, joining quarterback Gunner Kiel, who left earlier this month, and cornerback Tee Shepard, who left a year ago after enrolling in school early. Neither Neal nor Ferguson had much of an impact as receivers.
Neal had one catch for a loss of 5 yards and a run for 7 yards, both in the season-opening victory against Navy, while Ferguson had one catch for nine yards in the same game. Neal was the primary punt returner for the Irish last season, with 21 returns for a total of 46 yards. Kelly said sophomore receiver C.J. Prosise and senior receiver TJ Jones would be among those given a chance to win the punt return job.
Kelly and other coaches had talked last week about how they had been impressed by the play of Carlisle.
"He's got a burst to his running," running backs coach Tony Alford said.
Kelly said Carlisle, who is expected to compete with George Atkinson III for the starting job, was injured when he fell on his shoulder in a contact drill and another player landed on top of him. Kelly said the injury is similar to the broken collarbone receiver DaVaris Daniels had against Boston College on Nov. 10 and returned to play against Alabama in the BCS title game on Jan. 7. Carlisle should be cleared to return to action in about four weeks, or just after the spring game on April 20.
"A minor setback," Kelly said. "Amir had a great spring. We've seen what we need to see out of him. He will be a very important player for us."
Hounshell, who played in seven games as a freshman in 2011 before missing all of last season with an injured right shoulder, needs surgery again on the same shoulder for the same injury and will miss the entire upcoming season, Kelly said.
"I'm really disappointed for him because he worked so hard to get back there," he said.
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