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Ngata decides to play for BYU

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The answering machine at Haloti Ngata's home will now say, "Haloti's going to BYU. Thank you for calling."

Now he and his parents hope all the recruiting calls stop.

Ngata, 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, said in an exclusive interview Tuesday morning at Highland High School, that he verbally committed to play football at BYU.

"I'm going to BYU," Ngata said. "I know people who are going to be going there."

With the decision, Ngata puts to rest all internet and other published reports speculating of his future.

He said he is "100 percent" comfortable with his decision to go to BYU.

Ngata verbally committed to play at the University of Nebraska in early December, but while practicing for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, two weeks ago, he changed his mind and decided to explore other options.

At that time Ngata narrowed his choices to Oregon, BYU and Nebraska. Tuesday he made his official announcement.

He and his mother, Olga, told the Oregon and Nebraska coaches, who visited Highland Monday, that he was going to Provo.

Since making his verbal commitment to BYU coach Gary Crowton Sunday morning, Ngata is excited to play with Mountain Crest's Jake Kuresa and East's Taufui Vakapuna and work under defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi, who was hired last Friday to replace Tom Ramage, who retired.

"(His hiring) helped a lot," said Ngata, who was one of the most sought after defensive tackles in the nation.

Ngata also said the religious atmosphere, proximity to his family, and the Polynesian population at BYU were key factors in his decision.

"We couldn't make a decision at first because there were a lot of football teams that wanted him and they are all good teams," said Olga Ngata, Haloti's mother. "At first, we thought maybe got to a school outside of Utah would be the best for him so he can get attention."

Ngata is a two-time Deseret News first-team all-state selection and was named the 2001 Utah Gatorade player of the year.

The Cougars also received verbal commitments from the nation's No. 1 recruit and top quarterback, Ben Olson, of Thousands Oaks, Calif., Brighton's Brian Kehl and Kearns' Paulo Fuaalii.

The first official signing day is Feb. 6.


E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com