Milton Knox on Staying in L.A.

Van Nuys (Calif.) Birmingham running back Milton Knox was torn between Notre Dame and UCLA, but it was some words of wisdom from defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker that ultimately sealed the deal for him to sign with the Bruins...

A legend.

That is what UCLA's defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker told Milton Knox he was. While the Van Nuys (Calif.) Birmingham running back went back and forth with sticking with UCLA or signing with Notre Dame, an 11th hour conversation between Knox and Walker brought high praise to Knox.

"Coach Walker said I was a legend in this city, one of the greatest players ever, so why go across the country when I can just build on it? That stuck with me," said Knox.

So Tuesday night, Knox finalized his decision to attend UCLA, though he needed to wait until Wednesday evening to announce it. When he let new Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel know he was staying with UCLA, he said Neuheisel was thrilled.

"Coach Neuheisel said that we did our part in believing in him, now it's his turn to do his job for us," said Knox.

But it was the words of Walker that ultimately made the City Section's all-time leading rusher and touchdown scoring leader realize that he was better of going to UCLA.

"Coach Walker said I could continue to leave my mark in Los Angeles and that I could be a part of something special at UCLA," said Knox. "I was really seriously considering Notre Dame, but all of family is here, my friends are here and there have been a lot of people supporting me since I was little that wanted me to play close by. I kind of wanted to get away but I thought that this was home."

Knox said he spoke with fellow running back Aundre Dean on Tuesday night, and the two wanted to let it be known, they're excited to play together in college.

"We know that we're different style running backs and we know that in Coach (Norm) Chow's offense, his running backs always get a lot of carries split up. Aundre called me up to tell me to stick with UCLA. We want to make an impact in the offense. We're going to work real well together," said Knox.

Knox said one of the more difficult parts of the process was letting his longtime close friend, Dayne Crist know that he wouldn't be joining him in South Bend.

"Dayne was working on me until the end and Jimmy Clausen was my host on my trip and doing the same thing. But Dayne was cool about it. He said to do what is best for you," said Knox. "Donovan (Carter, his high school teammate and fellow UCLA signee), said the same thing. Do what is best for me. But he still was telling me the best was at UCLA."

The recruitment of Knox intensified after he put together a remarkable senior season, which earned him California Player of the Year honors and a third City Section title in four seasons.

A commit to UCLA since last June, Knox was all set to stick with his commitment until Karl Dorrell was fired, and then Florida and Notre Dame offered him. When he visited Florida the same weekend most of the UCLA commits visited Westwood, there was some speculation that he was looking to change. Then the offer and visit from Notre Dame happened, and the speculation was fueled by Knox's admission that he was seriously conflicted. But the conversation with Walker put him at peace and on Wednesday, he signed his letter-of-intent with UCLA.

"It is like a 300-pound brick has been lifted off of me," said Knox. "It's the biggest relief ever. I'll live and die with my decision, but I'm happy with it."

Knox said that in the weeks leading up to Signing Day, when he was struggling with his decision, several of UCLA's commits, who he bonded with over the course of the last year, kept reminding him that they would be a part of "something special" as long as they all stayed on board.

"I really connected with all of those guys. Rahim (Moore), Aaron (Hester), JetSki (Johnathan Franklin), they all said we need to do this thing together," said Knox. "When Anthony Dye would get everyone together, I felt like a family with them."

Knox said that waiting to make his announcement public on Wednesday evening was the toughest part. But the self-proclaimed ‘practical joker' said that he wanted to have some fun with the long, draining process.

"I know I probably made some UCLA fans nervous when I put on the Notre Dame hat, but that's my personality, I'm a jokester. This has been a tough process so I wanted to have some fun now that it's over with," said Knox. "Ask Coach Walker, I was pulling practical jokes on him on my official visit. That's just me."

And with the UCLA hat resting comfortably on his head, Knox sensed the relief he had been anticipating.

"I am so glad to be done with this. Now it's time to take care of business. I want to be ready to come in and contribute and be a part of this team, and bring a championship to UCLA," said Knox.

A championship that would further cement his legendary status.


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