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Hilliard is a Buffnblu Bruin
Dalton Hilliard to UCLA (Scout.com)
Northwest Recruiting Analyst
Posted Oct 28, 2008
Family is important to Dalton Hilliard. So much so, in fact, that even though he wanted to make a verbal commitment after his official visit to UCLA, he wouldn't pull the trigger without their say-so. And even after an equally impressive visit to Arizona, the 5-11, 195-pound Hilliard was more torn than ever. But as soon as his father picked him up at the airport, his mind was at ease.
"I think when I got in the car with my Dad and started talking about the (
) visit," Hilliard told Scout.com Monday night, after acknowledging his verbal commitment to
. Doris Sullivan of the Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance was the first to break the news publicly. "We started talking about things, comparing the two visits. Because really, it came down to those two schools (Arizona and UCLA)."
Hilliard's parents - Larry and Amalia - have been a constant throughout the recruiting process for Dalton. "They just kept telling me to go where my heart tells you," he said. "My Dad just wanted me to take my time and ask as many questions as I could on my visit; about the coaching staff, the athletics, the academics, everything. Then come back and sit down and compare the two. That's what they really wanted me to do. They weren't particularly leaning toward any one college.
"They told me after I came back from my UCLA visit to go on the Arizona trip, see another Pac-10 school and then go from there and make your decision."
The visit to Tucson definitely got Hilliard thinking about things. "At the time it did, because I was at the game and I saw the atmosphere," he said of the 'Cats 17-10 loss to
. "The coaching staff, they were all really awesome, I liked them a lot. They are an upcoming program right now, so I thought I should take another look at these guys.
"I went back and I thought about where I would want to be if I wasn't playing football, and right out of my head popped UCLA. I feel comfortable there. They are at the bottom right now, but the only way they can go is up and they have a great future ahead of them."
So Monday afternoon he placed a call to
and gave him the good news. "He was ecstatic and so was I," Hilliard said of the conversation. "We had talked before about the possibility of what I could as a part of the UCLA Bruin family, and he was excited. The first thing he said was, 'Welcome to the family'. And then I got a text from one of the players after I got off the phone with Coach Neuheisel saying 'Welcome to the Bruin family'. That alone made me realize I had made the right decision.
Fellow Punahou player
- who just picked up a scholarship offer from UCLA - was the first to call Hilliard with congratulations. "He's really thinking of committing to UCLA now," Dalton said. "We are really good friends, and it would be really awesome if we could go to school together."
There's a third Bruin offer out there to a certain Punahou player - his name is Manti Te'o. What are Hilliard's thoughts about reuniting with Scout.com's number-one outside linebacker recruit?
"That would be a dream come true," Hilliard said of the possible Buffnblu trifecta. "That would be crazy. With me, I came here and I became part of their (Te'o) Laie family this summer and I've been hanging with them a lot. It would be awesome if I could go to school with them and it's something we want."
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