Jalen Ortiz commits to UCLA


After a tough loss to Oregon State on Saturday, the UCLA Bruins might have recovered some momentum on Sunday, as they received a verbal commitment from cornerback Jalen Ortiz (Peoriz, Ariz./Centennial).

Ortiz took an official visit to UCLA on Sept. 7 and came away with the Bruins firmly atop his list. Over the next two weeks, he checked out two of his other favorites -- an official visit to Utah and an unofficial to Arizona State -- and cemented his original opinion: UCLA was the right fit.

"They've been on top for a while, ever since I took my first unofficial visit," Ortiz said. "The official visit confirmed that."

Ortiz made the decision final on Sunday, when he called offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone.

"He was surprised when I told him," Ortiz said. "They were in an offensive meeting and he announced it to everybody. It was a great feeling to hear how excited they all were."

Though Ortiz shines on both sides of the ball for Centennial, the Bruins see him as an offensive playmaker in their offense. Ortiz said he'll start out as a slot receiver, but will get some work out of the backfield as well. UCLA was one of the few teams recruiting him as an offensive player, but the 5-foot-9, 167-pound Ortiz said it was the overall package UCLA provides that was the determining factor.

"It was the place that I felt most comfortable and the place that is going to set me up the best," Ortiz said. "They have great academics, which will set me up for life after football. On the field, they have a great staff and an offense that really suits how I play."

Ortiz has official visits set to Washington and Boise State in the coming months, but he said on Sunday that he hasn't decided yet if he will follow through with those. He added that he will try to make it back out to UCLA as many times as possible this fall, to become even more familiar with the school and program.

"It's a sense of relief knowing where I'm going to go -- knowing I have a spot on the team," Ortiz said. "Now I can fully focus on my team and my senior season."

Ortiz is the No. 3 player in Arizona and becomes commitment No. 13 for the Bruins' 2013 class. He is also the second recruit to give a commitment to UCLA this weekend, joining offensive tackle Poasi Moala (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde), who flipped from Washington.