"I loved both schools so much that I was honestly heartbroken when I had to call Miami. It would have been the same way if I had to call UCLA and tell them I was going to Miami," said Ekbatani. "It was tough, but I'm so relieved to have it over with. Once I pulled the trigger it was like a 600-pound weight off of me."
Ekbatani committed to UCLA offensive line coach Tom Cable and head coach Karl Dorrell just prior to their departure to El Paso for the Sun Bowl. He signed his letter-of-intent last week and officially became a Bruin.
Ekbatani said: "Coach Cable was so pumped. He was kind of shocked. From the looks of it, everyone thought I was going to Miami, but after I took my trip I just thought I fit in better at UCLA. Not to down-talk Miami at all, but I just thought UCLA was better for me. Really, what it came down to was if I wasn't playing football, what school would I go to. If I was from South Florida, I'd have gone to Miami. But I'm a Southern California boy and I grew up watching the Bruins. I'm happy to be a Bruin."
Ekbatani will enroll in January and will participate in Spring Practice, where he will be one of the prime contenders for the weakside tackle spot that senior Ed Blanton will be vacating.
It's a situation that Ekbatani had hoped would happen, but didn't necessarily expect so soon, especially when he received little attention as a high school senior. "That was my goal and my dream to have some top programs to chose from," Ekbatani said. "Late in the season, recruiting was slow but as soon as schools got my tapes, the interest started coming. And really, this was my first year as strictly an offensive lineman. I was a defensive lineman too in high school. I'm looking forward to go with Coach Cable."
With four years to complete three seasons of eligibility, Ekbatani has a chance to earn some playing time with the flexibility of using a redshirt year, but he plans to play right off the bat. "It's a good situation for me, to come in and try to play right away. It will be cool for my family and friends to come and watch me in the Rose Bowl. They did that when I was in high school and being close to home, they will be able to again," said Ekbatani. "My mom is pretty pumped too."
Now, Ekbatani will spend the next couple of weeks relaxing with his decision made, while also preparing for his move to UCLA. "I'm just training and working out and I'm looking forward to playing football again," said Ekbatani.