"UCLA is where I felt the most comfortable," Duarte said in an earlier interview. "Every time I was around the coaches and players, they always made me feel like I was already a part of the team and I really bonded well with everyone. I like the coaching staff a lot and it will be cool to play close to home.
"My final choices were UCLA, Notre Dame, Oregon and Washington. I liked USC too but they never offered. I was going to take my official visits but I've already seen Oregon and Washington and I felt comfortable enough with UCLA where I didn't feel like I needed to see anyone else. It's the perfect fit for me and I'm thrilled to be a Bruin."
The offense UCLA runs was another big plus for Duarte.
"I was recruited as an F-Back, the same position Joe Fauria played," Duarte said. "It's not a traditional tight end role, it's more of a hybrid receiver-H-Back and that's exactly how I was used at Mater Dei. They'll move me around to take advantage of mismatches and I'm really excited about my role in the offense.
"I really like the direction the program is going and I think we'll have a shot to compete for the Rose Bowl next year. I like Coach Mora a lot and I get along well with the rest of the staff. I was disappointed to see Coach Tuiasosopo leave since he was the one that was recruiting me but I understand it. I've already talked with Taylor Mazzone, the new coach and I like him and I think he'll be a good coach for me. There's a great opportunity to come in and play early and I'm going to work as hard as I can to make that happen."
Quotes from Semper Fi:
Thomas Duarte, the receiver/tight end from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, announced he plans to be a Bruin on the telecast of the Semper Fidelis All-American game Friday night.
Duarte said: "So much has gone into this decision, with my parents and taking visits, but next year I'll be playing football and going to school at UCLA.
"Really, it just felt like home to me. There is something about the campus when I stepped on. It just felt right. I visited all the other campuses [points to the hats on the table in front of him] here on the table, but UCLA kept popping up in my head. The education is great, and the football is on the rise, and I'm going to love to be a part of that revolution at UCLA football."
The other hats on the table were that of Notre Dame, USC, Washington and Oregon.
Duarte, whose mother attended UCLA, is ranked the #8 tight end in the nation by Scout.com.