This was a pretty long interview, so rather than clutter than front page, I bumped this over the jump, so click on the link below.
Chatted for a long time with new UCLA commit Jacob Brendel, who blew my mind. Extremely bright kid. Extremely. He was very open with his answers, shockingly candid on some, and he sounds like he has a true understanding of himself and what he wants. I don’t often expect that from a teenager.
Here’s his profile, also:
In the era of “The Decision,” live television spectacles to announce to the world about college – or pro – destinations, Jacob Brendel wanted none of that.
The Plano East (Texas) offensive lineman saw his future being plucked off little by little, available scholarships at possible destinations being snatched up and secured, and he knew he had to act quickly.
So he called Bob Palcic a few days ago and became the fourth offensive lineman to commit to UCLA so far.
“One reason why I committed is that here aren’t unlimited spots; schools only have so many positions open for O-Linemen,” said Brendel, rated the No. 6 center in the country by Scout.com. “To me, I already lost one of my schools, Northwestern – they wanted three offensive linemen and all three committed – and that made me wake up and say I need to make a decision. I wanted to reserve a spot.”
Brendel said he did not buy into the hoopla.
He didn’t buy into the idea of waiting until late in the game to build suspense.
And he certainly didn’t buy into the hype that his recruiters were selling him.
With offers from Cal, Stanford and Arizona among others, he was not dazzled by history or facilities or strategy.
Only by the players and coaches.
“In the back of my mind, I know that college football is a business, and I realize that the only reason colleges have sports is to bring in money,” Brendel said. “That’s part of the reason why they’re trying to recruit the best players, sure. But to me, I didn’t look for how impressive the school is or how amazing they used to be. It was about how well I could bond with the coaches and the students who are already there. I’m that type of person. That’s what set my mind on UCLA.”
First and foremost, Palcic.
Brendel said he has a great relationship with the Bruins’ offensive line coach, forged on mutual respect and a similar attitude.
“Palcic has been around – he’s been a coach in the NFL, many colleges, and I feel like he knows what he’s talking about,” Brendel said. “He’s not learning. He’s learned all he needs to learn. He’s an expert at what he does, and he shoots it to his players and coaches straight. He doesn’t sugar-coat things, and I don’t sugar-coat things. The bond between he and I will be strong for years to come.”
It’s a bond that he also shares with UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel.
Soon after calling Palcic, Brendel was on the phone with Neuheisel, whom Brendel admires for his loyalty to the Bruins.
“The passion that he has for UCLA, his alma mater, came out the first second I met him,” said Brendel, who is listed on Scout at 6-foot-4.5 and 240 pounds. “I just knew that he loved where he was. He loves his job. Really, that made it for me. I trusted him then. What’s the importance of a relationship with him? He calls the shots. Same with my head coach at Plano East. You need to have a relationship with that person, so he knows what kind of player you are. Player and man.”
But Brendel also understands that he is part of a class of recruits, and beyond that part of a large team, so his relationships with his fellow players will be paramount. He’s already gotten to know several players, and he is particularly interested in UCLA’s 2011 class, which has verbal commitments from offensive linemen Torian White, Marc Mustoe and Ben Wysocki, tight end Junior Pomee and wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
“I learned the second I started playing offensive line that you have to have a great bond with the fellow offensive linemen and the entire team,” Brendel said. “You can’t push on your fellow players if they don’t know and trust you. Without that trust, it’s hard to have a quality team. From looking at the already committed offensive linemen, I could definitely see myself building good relationships with those people.”
As of now, Brendel is a firm verbal commitment, wavering not the least. But unlike many several recruits, who say they’re locked up and then flip late in the process, Brendel is candid about his status with the Bruins and his potential to land elsewhere.
“I really can’t answer that question,” Brendel said. “I can’t tell the future; right now I’m very, very excited about a chance to go to UCLA and play football. But there are schools out there that I’m more excited about. Those schools really aren’t an option for me right now. But if they do become an option, things might change. Really, there’s always an option. Right now, it’s only words. There’s no paperwork.”