Marlon Pollard had already decided that he was going to come back to UCLA, with whom he had originally verbally committed to before decommitting to Notre Dame, during his official visit on Saturday.
But before the Cajon senior cornerback officially announced that, he had another comeback to take care of first.
“I was playing pool with (UCLA freshman defensive back) Rahim Moore and the stakes were that if I lost, I had to commit right away,” Pollard said. “I didn’t make any off the break and then he sunk five balls in a row. I thought I was going to lose for sure.”
Pollard ended up making the miraculous billiards comeback, allowing him to keep his intentions quiet. But that’s not something that Pollard could do for along as Bruin players, recruits, coaches and parents gathered together at head coach Rick Neuheisel’s house.
“One of the other guys, I forgot his name, got up and announced his commitment 15 or 20 minutes later and I was like ‘What about me, coach? What about me?’” Pollard said. “The coaches let me announce the commitment and everyone was happy.”
Most importantly, Pollard is happy with being a Bruin, ending a nearly two-year recruiting saga. The 6-foot-1, 160-pound defensive back committed to UCLA coach Karl Dorrell before his junior year, only to decommit after Dorrell was fired. He then committed to Notre Dame over the summer, but UCLA kept up their pursuit. Stanford also joined in late.
“UCLA has been recruiting Marlon for over two years,” said Marlon’s mother, Rachael Pollard. “He was the youngest player ever to commit to UCLA. We just felt really comfortable with the players and coaches. We felt it was one big family. I’m very thankful to Stanford and Notre Dame for the interest they showed in Marlon.”
Rachael Pollard also cited the job security, or lack thereof, of Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis as a factor. But ultimately, it was where Marlon felt comfortable that won out in her mind.
“It definitely helped that coach Neuheisel is going to be there 3-4 years at the very least,” Pollard said. “But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this process, it’s that at the end of the day, it’s his decision. As a parent, you have your opinions, but it’s needs to be his decision. And Marlon is really happy about UCLA and I’m happy for him. It’s a comfortable, family environment with great education opportunities.”
With Pollard, UCLA has a big Inland Empire contingent, as he joins Los Osos quarterback Richard Brehaut, Bloomington fullback Jayson Allmond and Diamond Ranch cornerback Brandon Sermons as Bruin committs. That connection, plus bonds he made with other players in the class, was important.
“Richard and I talk a lot,” Pollard said. “I also have a pretty good relationship with (Carson TE) Morrell Presley and (La Puente Bishop Amat CB) Sheldon Price. I can’t wait to play with all those guys.”