After USC didn’t honor its word, former 4-star commit to sign with UCLA

Kylie Fitts will still achieve his dream of playing college football in the Coliseum. But the Redlands East Valley defensive end is happy to do it every other year.

After Rivals.com’s No. 12 recruit in the state was verbally committed to USC for the better part of 10 months, Fitts announced Tuesday night that he will sign a letter of intent this morning with UCLA. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound prospect was 36 hours from enrolling at USC on Jan. 10 before he was informed by the school that a scholarship wouldn’t be available for him until the fall.

“It broke my heart, but I believe everything happens for a reason,” Fitts said. “I’m almost happy it happened, because it led me to UCLA.”

Fitts promptly decommitted from USC upon delivery of the news to his father that a player who was expected to vacate his spot on the Trojans failed to graduate, leaving USC with one less scholarship available. The four-star recruit has taken official visits each of the last three weeks to UCLA, Notre Dame and Utah, respectively. He has maintained contact with USC, which he was still strongly considering until a home visit last week from UCLA all but closed the deal for the Bruins.

Despite altering his plans in order to graduate from high school early only to have USC go back on its word, Fitts was tempted by Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin to return to the original plan of attending his dream school.

“My problem was just about having my kid lied to,” REV head football coach Kurt Bruich said. “They may have had a kid not graduate, but they didn’t find that out the Monday before (Fitts) was going to enroll. The whole thing was very shady.”

As it turns out, Fitts will be allowed to enroll in college before the fall. UCLA, which is on a quarter system, will allow him to start classes and join the team in late March.

There were four factors, in Bruich’s estimation, that led to the final decision in favor of UCLA: education, relationship with the coaching staff, relationship with the players and proximity to home. Fitts admittedly enjoyed his visits to Notre Dame and Utah enough to give each strong consideration despite the distance from his hometown.

UCLA was a natural fit due to a program Fitts stated was clearly on the rise, but in the end the lifelong USC fan couldn’t help but consider the school he was committed to for nearly a year.

“It was like on and off,” Fitts said. “I would go and talk with Kiffin and I was like ‘I should go back there. And I’d go talk with (UCLA assistant coach) Angus (McClure) and UCLA was the place. I prayed a lot about it and God led me.”

There was a horde of media in attendance for Fitts’ announcement at his high school, eager to hear the end of what has become a national story. Fitts was the eighth player this season to decommit from USC.

He joins a UCLA recruiting class that includes 16 other four-star recruits and is ranked eighth in the country by Rivals.com. Sitting two spots back in the rankings is a USC class that is made up of just 12 players, all of which are at least four-star prospects.

Fitts is just happy to again belongs to a recruiting class, even if its not at USC.

“It’s been hard decommitting and everything,” he said. “It’s been hard on my family and hard going back through the recruiting process. You build relationships with these coaches again and it’s tough to tell them no because it’s like breaking up a friendship.”