Jones Talks of UCLA Commitment

The latest Bruin, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oak Christian running back Malcolm Jones, talked at length about his decision to go to UCLA, what were some of the deciding factors, and what's on his agenda now...

It was three years ago, when he was just a freshman, that Malcolm Jones introduced himself to the Southland football faithful, admirably filling in for Marc Tyler during Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian's run to the 2006 state title as the Lions' primary ball-carrier in the playoffs.

Three years later, Jones continues to shine as the Lions' feature back and his introduction to the Southland will continue for a few more years, with Jones' decision to commit to UCLA on Thursday.

Jones picked the Bruins over Stanford, the former offering him last December, the latter last August.

For months, he labored over the two, weighing the pros and cons of each program.

But Thursday came the moment of "freedom" as Jones put it.

"It feels really good," said Jones about his commitment to UCLA. "I feel like I'm free and feel real good about my decision. There was always something about UCLA that I really felt comfortable with. Telling Stanford was a pretty hard thing to do. It's a great place and I really liked the coaches. And they were the first school to offer me. My family was pushing for Stanford a little but they were completely supportive of my decision. And then they said it would be easier for them to come and see me play."

Jones had his coach, Bill Redell, call the UCLA coaches and let them know to expect good news from him on Thursday morning.

Jones said: "Coach Redell called them (Thursday) morning and told them, then when I got out of class, I called them up and I talked to Coach (Rick) Neuheisel, Coach (Wayne) Moses, Coach (Norm) Chow and Coach (Chuck) Bullough. They were all really pumped up. But Coach Neuheisel was definitely the most pumped."

Jones said the fact both were in-state had no bearing on his decision, but it worked out for him.

"At first I was really open minded about where I wanted to go," Jones said. "It just came down to the two being in California, just kind of happened that way."

UCLA presented several good opportunities for Jones.

"Something about UCLA was different. When I visited there during my junior year, it was just that feeling you get when you know it's the right place for you," said Jones. "When I first went there, I really liked it a lot. There is a good opportunity to play early. I can also kind of make my own name there. It's good to go away from the bandwagon crowd and go somewhere different. Oaks hasn't had a lot of guys go to UCLA. We've had Aaron Ware, but it's good for us to show that everyone at Oaks can be throughout the Pac-10. Aaron and I talked and he said he's had a great time at UCLA and it's a great school for him."

Jones will get to go against his older brother, Marshall, a couple of times, with Marshall being at USC.

"Marshall was fine with me picking UCLA and he said it wasn't a big deal and he was happy for me," said Jones. "But it will be fun to play against him."

Jones said that his whole focus has been on winning a fourth straight CIF-SS title at Oaks, and get back to the state championship game, like he did as a freshman.

"With this decision done, I'm focusing on the rest of my senior season," said Jones. "We're working our hardest and focused on high school football. We've really set the Open Bowl as our goal. Once we beat Skyline, we knew that it would boost our chances. And with some other teams losing, that is becoming a reality. But we still have to focus on the rest of the season."

Jones was honored earlier today at a ceremony at school, celebrating his invitation to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio in January, the second UCLA commitment named to the game, along with Tony Jefferson.

January will also be when he takes his official visit to Westwood, so he can be a UCLA recruiter.

"Coach Neuheisel said he wants me to visit in January with the other recruits," said Jones. "I'm going to start talking to some other commits and start to become friends with them too."

Jones, who had over 300 yards against Venice last weekend, is back in action tonight with Oaks when they take on Moore League school Long Beach Jordan.

"Recruiting has been fun, but I just want to get a state championship, so it's back to business."

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