Long Beach Poly (Calif.) defensive back Byron Velega wanted to wait through the weekend to see if he would get an offer from his dream school- the USC Trojans. When that didn’t happen, the talented corner decided to pull the trigger and committed to cross town rival UCLA.
Velega had narrowed his choices down to UCLA and Washington State just a few weeks ago but after a school visit by Trojan head coach Pete Carroll, the athlete wanted to wait and see how things played out.
“USC is where I’ve always dreamed of going,” Velega said. “I didn’t hear anything from them all season so I kind of wrote them off. Then when Coach Pola came by the school, I got interested again. The next week, Coach Carroll came by. They said they would let me know about an offer shortly but I never heard back so I just assumed they decided to go in a different direction.
“This past week, Cal came back at me real hard. Thursday they came in for a home visit with their whole defensive staff. Then they called me on Friday to tell me how bad they wanted me. Washington State was great too and I love their defense and Coach Green, their defensive backs coach. When I evaluated everything, UCLA came on top.
“For one, I like that it’s close to home and my family and friends can go and see me play. I also think that with Matt Ware leaving early, the opportunity to come in and play early is there for me. Rodney (Van) and I have been talking about how cool that will be if we were the two corners opposite of each other. I have a lot friends on the team and I like the coaching staff there. It’s going to be a challenge but Rodney and I are excited about trying to turn things around there. Junior (Lemau’u) has been talking to me a lot too and he kept saying, ‘you got to come here, you got to come here.’ Junior is one of those guys that when he talks, you better listen.
“I’m just excited it’s over. I had fun with the process and was pretty surprised at how much attention I ended up getting. In the summer, I was just hoping for one offer and I ended up getting offered by the whole Pac 10 minus USC and Stanford. I’m looking forward to going to Spring practice and watching the defense. That was another plus about UCLA, that’s the only school where I would be able to do that and I think it will help me get on the field faster.”