Halalilo, in the last couple of weeks, had been reconsidering the commitment. There were reports that he was close to de-committing and then committing to ASU.
“Yeah, I was thinking about it,” Halalilo said. “It was really just me getting a little confused. There were some misunderstandings. But I talked with (UCLA Offensive Line) Coach Klemm a lot lately, talking about many things, and I just had to work through those misunderstandings. He’s really helped me to see things, and has been real with me. So I decided to stick with my commitment. I’m UCLA 100%.”
Halalilo had scheduled an official visit to ASU for January but he said that he’ll no longer take that visit. “I’m not planning any more visits,” he said. “I’ll go up to UCLA a couple more times, just to keep getting a better feel for my future school. But that’s it.”
When asked what were the “misunderstandings,” Halalilo elaborated: “It was really on me. I should have known that it was difficult to get ahold of me, with the whole cell phone deal. Coach Klemm talked about my visit there, too, and I realized it was just miscommunication. I realize, too, that I really want to compete, and I want to go to UCLA for that. I’m really ready for the competition. I think it’s the best way to make me better. Then it was my bad for saying some of those things. It was me over-exaggerating.
“I’m just happy with my commitment to UCLA. I really want a UCLA degree. To come out of such a great college and be a dual-threat, both in athletics and academics. Having a degree from UCLA is one of the best in the world. “
Halalilo wants to major in communications. “Yeah, a bit ironic,” he said with a chuckle.
He’ll take the short trip up to UCLA at least a couple of times in January and he hopes to get a great deal out of it.
He said: “I just want to build more relationships with the coaches and the players. And I want to get even more of a feel for the academic system and the football program. I want to meet some of the older players, and get to know the guys who will be the leaders of the team for the next couple of years, and get a good relationship with them. I expect they’ll tell me how it all works and how it is to be a Bruin.”
Halalilo does stay in touch with some other Bruin commitments. “I talked with Bolu Olorunfunmi,” he said. “We message each other and I get to talk to him pretty often. I think that’s big since he’s going to be my running back.”
Overall, Halalilo said there was just too much that made sense for him about UCLA. “After I really thought about it, and talked to Coach Klemm, I know it’s the right thing. UCLA is honestly how I feel. It’s best for me there.”
Greg Biggins' Story:
During last weeks Semper Fi Bowl, there was a ton of buzz that offensive lineman Tevita Halalilo, a long time commitment to UCLA was about to de-commit and would end up at Arizona State. Just how close was this to happening?
We received a phone call from Halalilo's head coach Sunday morning saying, 'Just a heads up, Tevita is going to call up ASU around 12:30 today and commit to them, this is a done deal.' Halalilo never made the call but at the Semper Fi Bowl Sunday night, the lineman did tell us he was going to de-commit from UCLA and listed several reasons why.
He mentioned a lack of communication with the UCLA coaches, a poor official visit and a crowded depth chart. It seemed like only a matter of time before the big guard prospect would pull out of his commitment but after talking to Bruin OL coach Adrian Klemm multiple times this week, Halalilo has decided to stick with his pledge.
"I'm 100% committed to UCLA and wont be taking that visit to ASU now," Halalilo said. "I think this whole thing was partly a misunderstanding on my part and also maybe a little bit of immaturity. I hadn't talked to UCLA much so I didn't really know what was going on. I don't have a cell phone so I know I'm not the easiest guy to get a hold of but I thought they could at least go through my parents.
"Well a few days ago I mentioned to my mom that I hadn't heard from UCLA in a while and she showed me on her phone that they had called several times and she just forgot to give me the message. They had also been talking weekly with my position coach at Rancho Verde and I didn't know that. I had a couple of great talks with Coach Klemm this week and he explained how much they like me.
"He was very straightforward and said if I want to de-commit because you don't want to be at UCLA, that's fine, it happens, but don't make up reasons by saying we don't want you when we do. We talked through a bunch of things and it really cleared my head for me. UCLA is definitely where I want to be and that's why even before I talked to him on Sunday, I couldn't pull the trigger. I was about to, I was real close but couldn't do it, something held me back and it's because my heart was still at UCLA."
As for his official visit that he said didn't go well, Halalilo had a different take on it.
"That was the Utah game when they gave up a ton of sacks," Halalilo said. "I saw the quarterback and the offensive line getting on each other and I didn't see a lot of team chemistry. I probably made a bigger deal out of that then it was really was to be honest. I think I was almost looking for a reason to not like UCLA because I was frustrated about the lack of communication.
"I've been to almost every UCLA home game this year and never saw that. before, I realize that now. The team really connects well and everyone is a family. So I took that one game because it was on my official visit and kind of blew it up to be honest. I know that's football and it happens everywhere. The thing is, I talk to Poasi Moala (former teammate) all the time and he loves it there. He's like family and if things were bad and the players didn't get along or like the coaches, he would tell me. He's very honest with me and he tells me how great UCLA is and I know I can trust him so that's big for me too."
As for the depth chart?
"I've never been afraid of competition before and I'm not going to let that affect me now," Halalilo said. "I know they have some guys there but I want the challenge of coming in and winning a job. Coach Klemm showed me how many freshman and redshirt freshman he has played over the last few years. They started three freshman last season and the best guys will play no matter what year they're in.
"If I have to redshirt, that's fine, I need to get stronger but I'll still be ready to compete. Right now, I feel really good about my decision, it was definitely a stressful time for me. This is final though, no trips anywhere except up to UCLA and I'm just glad it's over and I now have peace about this as well."