Jalen Ortiz says his mind was made up weeks ago. When he left UCLA's campus following the Bruins' win over Nebraska on Sept. 8, he knew a commitment was coming. Subsequent trips to Utah and Arizona State in recent weeks were taken only to ensure he'd made the right choice.
When you know that, the setting in which he decided to pull the trigger doesn't seem so curious. As the three-star wide receiver took in ASU's win over Utah in Tempe on Saturday night, the two teams playing in front of him were mere afterthoughts. Instead, his focus was on squarely the Bruins.
Helping UCLA's cause? The fact that Ortiz spent his unofficial visit to ASU seated near recent Bruin pledge Kenny Lacy, a Phoenix-area offensive tackle. The topic of conversation between the two was what anyone would expect. And by the time the game was over, Ortiz was ready to join the 270-pound Lacy in Los Angeles.
Chalk up an assist for the big man.
"Kenny and I actually took our officials to UCLA at the same time, so we had been talking about UCLA for a while," Ortiz said. "We talked more about it at the Arizona State game. I didn't tell him I was going to commit last night, but I'm going to get a hold of him now and tell him I decided to do it today."
Less than 24 hours after Lacy's verbal nudge in the stands of Sun Devil stadium, Ortiz picked up the phone and decided to make things official. On Sunday morning, the call was taken, his commitment was accepted and a small celebration began.
"They were all excited," Ortiz said. "I called (UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone) and he announced it to everyone. They were in a meeting and I could hear the other offensive coaches yelling about it in the background. It was a good feeling."
UCLA plans to use Ortiz (5-foot-9, 170 pounds) in the slot as well as out of the backfield in an effort to utilize his speed and minimize the adverse effect of his limited size. The strategy is fine by Ortiz, who admits wearing a UCLA jersey is all that matters to him.
"UCLA has been on top for a while, ever since I took my first unofficial there," he said. "After my official, I knew for sure. I waited because I wanted to check out Utah. And I wanted to check out ASU because they are the hometown team, but I already knew."
Ortiz has three official visits left to his name, but it's unclear what will become of them. Although the newly committed wide receiver hasn't set dates for other trips, he reserves the right to do so. Whether or not that will happen, however, is unclear.