"They were the favorite," he said when reached by phone Monday.
"They're the favorite at home, too. The decision wasn't difficult. Oxford being the size that it is made a big difference, too. I've lived in the city my whole life. I'm trying to get away from the city. I want to be somewhere more peaceful. It just seemed like the people down there were so down to earth. I just loved it."
Garbutt almost pulled the trigger when he visited Ole Miss the second weekend in December. But he waited. He needed to clear his head. Mississippi was a considerable distance from his native California. Not to mention he had already scheduled a trip to Washington for his second official visit a week later.
But, again, Ole Miss was where his heart was.
The more he thought about, the less daunting that cross-country trek to the Deep South seemed. Plus, he was being offered the opportunity to play in the Southeastern Conference. And with Ole Miss in desperate need of help in its secondary, Garbutt could realistically see the field early.
"It was a great process, "Garbutt said. "What really stood out was the love I was shown. You know, I'm out here in California. When I went down to Mississippi, it really changed my mind about a lot of things. It opened up my mind about moving away from home, and I saw that I liked the atmosphere over there."
Seniors Johnny Brown, Fon Ingram and Jeremy McGee are all gone from an Ole Miss secondary widely considered one of the team's weakest links over a trying 4-8 season in 2010. Garbutt, a May graduate, can play both safety and cornerback. He's a welcomed addition.
"They showed me what they got (returning) and that made a huge difference," Garbutt said. "All of that played a part. They told me that they're really returning like four guys, and the reason some things were happening last year was because of the secondary. They told me I'd be able to help out and make a difference.
"They let me know that I'm going to be able to play all around the field. But, really, they like me at corner. But I'm excited to play some safety, too. I would like to try anything – wherever I fit best. That's what I'm trying to do."
Ole Miss, for the most part, will be young in the secondary. Of those returning, only Marcus Temple and Damien Jackson are upperclassmen. Jackson, however, could be tried at linebacker in spring drills.
"They need guys who know what they're doing," Garbutt said. "They wanted someone who could come in and make an instant impact. I think that's why they really wanted me."
Garbutt will return to Fullerton for the spring semester to finish up coursework, but said he's on track to graduate in May. Garbutt, who held offers from Ole Miss, Washington, SMU and New Mexico State, was named all-conference following his freshman season, when he had four interceptions and returned his only punt return for a touchdown.
Garbutt stands as the third junior college defensive back to commit to Ole Miss this month, joining Wesley Pendleton of Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Ivan Nicholas of ASA.
"My heart was (at Ole Miss)," he said. "It wasn't real tough."