Aaron Perez (6-3, 215), a punter from Charter Oak, committed to UCLA earlier this week, following in the footsteps of previous Charger/Bruins Chris Rubio (LS) and Joey Strycula (Holder).
"It's just an awesome feeling to commit to UCLA," Perez said. "Coach Dorrell offered me and I knew that's where I wanted to go. So I committed on Monday."
With the presence of punter Chris Kluwe on the roster, Perez knows he will redshirt in 2004, but he could also greyshirt and enter UCLA in the winter of 2005. "I know that with the quarter system I could be there in time for spring ball. I would rather come in the fall and practice, but it doesn't really matter. I'm just excited to be going there."
Perez burst onto the scene last season, averaging 41.5 yards, and an average hangtime of 4.4. However, it was training with another former Bruin that helped make him a top prospect. "I went to the Chris Sailer Kicking Camp in Las Vegas, and Chris told me I was one of the top kickers in the country. I know he played at UCLA, and his snapper was Chris Rubio and his holder was Joey Strycula. That was pretty cool."
While at the camp, Perez averaged in the high 40s per punt and had a stretch of 15 punts in a row that went 52 yards, while his hangtime went up to 4.8.
Since then, Sailer's kicking/punting ratings have put Perez in the top 12 kickers in the nation.
Coach Schneider, who handles most of the special teams for the Bruins, was at the Sailer Kicking Camp, and Perez caught his eye. Perez said, "Chris told me Coach Schneider was impressed with my kicking and so he started recruiting me. He and Coach Dorrell were great people. One thing I really appreciated was that they were honest with me. They told me I might have to wait but that they did want me. They didn't just tell me what I wanted to here.
To say playing at UCLA is a dream fulfilled could be an understatement for Perez. "My parents will get to come watch me. It's only 45 minutes from home. I think UCLA is the greatest university in the country. It's a lifelong dream for me to attend UCLA."
Along with UCLA, Perez had offers from Duke and Oregon State, and he had thought he might want to go through the recruiting process, but the UCLA offer was too good to pass up. "My parents were kind of shocked I committed right away, but they are really happy for me." With Rubio and Strycula both former Bruins, Perez also calls them "coach" as they both are on the football staff at Charter Oak. "I don't think they know yet, but I think they will be pretty happy when they find out."
Ironically, Perez has never been to a college football game, and is somewhat new to football. "The last day of hell week my freshman year, my friend called me and said they needed a kicker. Within four weeks, I was on varsity, and it's amazing how its worked out into a scholarship to UCLA."