Duarte Loves Junior Day

Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei tight end Thomas Duarte recaps his time at UCLA's Junior Day...

Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei athlete Thomas Duarte took in UCLA's Junior Day on Sunday, the first time he'd really been able to spend time on campus.

Duarte's mother went to UCLA, and between his time with the coaches and his time with his mom reminiscing about her time in Westwood, it culminated in a good experience for him.

"It was great there, really it was amazing," said Duarte. "It was really my first time walking around the campus and seeing everything. My mom went there and she was really enjoying it and being like ‘we need to see this place and that place'. She loved it up there too."

Duarte was offered by UCLA two weeks ago, by offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, who recruits Orange County, and he spent time with Klemm and tight ends coach Marques Tuiasosopo.

"UCLA likes me as an inside receiver, so I talked with Coach Klemm but a lot of time with Coach Tui," said Duarte. "I got along real well with Coach Tui and I like him a lot. We had a pretty good talk."

Duarte said the time at UCLA also allowed him a chance to chat with head coach Jim Mora.

"I did get a chance to talk with Coach Mora and I really liked him," said Duarte. "I really like the energy he brought to the whole coaching staff and what he has planned for that whole program."

Duarte said he liked what he saw from the UCLA campus and the visit overall.

"I felt like it was really relaxing and more open on the campus and the facilities were pretty cool," said Duarte. "I really liked it. They made a good impression on me and I'm definitely going to consider UCLA strongly. They wanted me to have fun and enjoy the day and I did and it was amazing. I talked to Coach Mora about coming up and checking out spring practice and hanging out up there."

Duarte also has an offer from Colorado and said he may try and get to Boulder in the spring and check it out.

For now, he's staying pretty open.

"I'm blessed with the offers I have and I'll be grateful if any other school offers," said Duarte.

Last fall, Duarte had 50 receptions for 820 yards with seven touchdowns.

Academically, Duarte is squared with his GPA and will take the SAT in the spring.

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