VIDEO: Four-star linebacker Zach Whitley enrolls early

One of the top recruits in UCLA’s class was four-star linebacker Zach Whitley, a Houston-area native who originally committed to Alabama. He flipped to the Bruins early last month and enrolled early, getting a head start on preparing for his freshman season.

He took questions from the media on Wednesday …

On deciding to flip from Alabama to UCLA last month:

“It was a lot going into that decision. Me and my dad had a long discussion about what’s best for me as a player and as a student. I just felt more comfortable coming here instead of Alabama.

“It really surprised my school, my teammates. A lot of my teammates, I told them in the past I was considering UCLA. A certain amount of them knew, but not a lot. It was a surprise. A lot of them were upset, and you had a lot that were very happy for me for making my decision. They’re saying, at least you’re going somewhere besides staying at home and not going to college. I had a lot of support too.”

On having North Shore High teammate NaJee Toran joining him at UCLA:

“It was a great help. I have a brother from home that’s here. Me and NaJee grew up together. it’s going to be nice here playing ball with him in high school and college.”

On deciding to declare early and enroll:

“It was a big jump for me. It took a lot of thought. I wanted to have a better opportunity to play my freshman year and get ahead on book work and school.”

On whether he’ll play inside or outside linebacker:

“They told me that I would play middle, but my thing is, I’ll play wherever they want me to play, as long as I’m on the field contributing. … I have my eyes on any position. Whatever it takes, whatever position they have open for me to play is where I’ll play. Special teams, defense, offense — it doesn’t matter.”

On what he liked about UCLA:

“The strengths would be the engineering program. … The fact that it’s California. I’ve never been here. To see everything, Beverly Hills and all of that, it was just a great sight for me. I’m excited to be here. Truly blessed. Just taking it day by day.”

On the conditioning program so far:

“It’s going well. It’s not new for me because I’ve been pushed hard by my high school coaches. Especially coach (Thomas) Dunson, that was my position coach. He was coached by coach (Nick) Saban. He knows what it takes to be a great player.”

On strength coach Sal Alosi comparing him to Myles Jack:

“It’s a blessing. I don’t really label myself. I look up to Myles. Everything he does, I try to mirror it. I try to be as good as him, if not better.”

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  • jameskatt

    He sounds like a winner!
    Go Bruins!

  • Joe Bruin

    What a team player.. No “I” in team! Love this guy already!.. Welcome to the Bruin Nation!!!
    You picked the right place Mr. Whitley!

  • Danny

    Aspirations in engineering? Wow impressive!