Byron Velega Commits

Long Beach (Calif.) Poly cornerback <b>Byron Velega</b> commits to UCLA and joins fellow Jackrabbit cornerback Rodney Van as Bruin commitments, keeping the pipeline from Poly flowing.

Make that two Long Beach (Calif.) Poly cornerbacks who will become Bruins.

Byron Velega, 5-10, 180, will join teammate and fellow corner Rodney Van in Westwood next year.

"I committed to UCLA just a little bit ago," said Velega. "I called Coach (Gary) DeLoach and then I called Coach (Karl) Dorrell and let them know I was coming."

Earlier Sunday evening, Velega had said he was still waiting on an offer from childhood favorite USC and thought he would get one this week. The Trojans got on him just a week ago, told him they would get back to him, and he said he would probably wait until Tuesday.

But a few hours later, he decided to end to his recruitment and called the Bruin coaches.

"All I know is I am happy to get this over with. No more calls for me," said Velega, who's uncle is former Bruin fullback Toa Saipale.

Velega had all but eliminated the Bruins back in December, butthen took an official visit to Westwood, and the Bruins jumped to the top. That trip, the proximity to home and his friendship with Van as well as other former Poly players Kevin Brown, Junior Lemau'u and Marcedes Lewis made the Bruins a leader.

But recently, Velega was beginning to favor Washington State, and Cal began to make a late charge as well. Then came the contact from USC and his whole process was becoming too stressful.

"It's hard. I just want to get to Signing Day," said Velega.

Now, Velega will have a chance to compete as a true freshman for playing time, with the starting cornerback spot created by Matt Ware's departure now open. In addition, Matt Clark will be a senior, so early playing time will be available.

Being the fifth Jackrabbit to join the Bruins, joining Lewis, Lemau'u and Brown as well as Van, and being able to possibly down the line start opposite Van again was a factor.

"I haven't told Rodney yet. I'll tell him at school (on Monday). But he'll be real happy," said Velega.

Velega, who is fully qualified, was recently named to the CIF All-Southern Section First Team as a defensive back.

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