Print and Go Back ESPN.com: On The Trail: West Region [Print without images]

Thursday, May 16, 2013
WR Sykes picks Pac-12 dream school

By Erik McKinney

In one of the least surprising developments of the 2014 recruiting class, three-star wide receiver Dionte Sykes (Chandler, Ariz./Chandler) is headed to the school he always knew he'd attend.

Sykes, who was previously offered by Arizona, Arizona State, Michigan and Michigan State, among others, picked up an offer from UCLA earlier this week and didn't need more than a few moments to know he would commit. On Thursday evening, he made it official by committing to the Bruins.

"I knew I was going to go there from the very beginning," Sykes said. "I've known that whole staff since I was little, and I'm from California. It's a perfect fit."

Originally from Compton, Calif., Sykes moved to Arizona when he was in the fifth grade. His family ties to members of the UCLA coaching staff run back even further than that.

Sykes has known UCLA graduate assistant Matt Butterfield since the third grade, as the two grew up together. Sykes' father, Kelron Sykes, played football at Oregon State, where UCLA receivers coach Eric Yarber was a coach. His uncle, Jashon Sykes, was the director of football operations at Colorado when Butterfield was there and is good friends with UCLA assistant coach Noel Mazzone, whom Sykes has known for years.

"UCLA has always been my top school," Sykes said. "I talked to my whole family about it even before they offered. They're super excited. I always knew they'd offer. I just didn't know when."

The news brightened what could have been a cloudy day for Sykes, who underwent surgery at 5:30 Thursday morning in order to clean some cartilage in his knee. But things looked up quickly when Sykes received a call from his coach, who said the UCLA staff wanted to speak with him.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound receiver will have the ability to play tight end or wide receiver at UCLA, and he said the Bruins staff told him to keep an eye on both positions this fall.

"They said I'll play whichever one fits me best," Sykes said. "They want me to pay attention to the whole offense and we'll see how things work out."

Sykes, who caught 42 passes for 708 yards and five touchdowns as a junior, said the UCLA coaches told him they would be taking three receivers in this class. With his commitment, the Bruins now have two, as Sykes joins Barry Ware (Corona, Calif./Centennial) as the entire UCLA 2014 recruiting class at this point.

With so many decommitments and changes in plans a common occurrence throughout the recruiting landscape, Sykes said the UCLA staff can rest easy he will be with them come signing day.

"I'll probably take a couple of visits, but that's where I'm going," he said. "It's UCLA. It's official."