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Ngata decides to play for BYU

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The answering machine at Haloti Ngata's 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 that he has verbally committed to play football at BYU.

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

Ngata verbally committed to the University of Nebraska in early December, but didn't feel good about his decision. 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. He was hired last Friday to replace Tom Ramage, who retired.

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

Ngata also said the religious atmosphere and the Polynesian population were key factors in his decision.

Two weeks ago, after playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Ngata narrowed his choices down to Oregon, BYU and Nebraska. He and his mother, Olga, told the Oregon and Nebraska coaches, who visited Highland Monday, that he was going to Provo.

"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.

"At first, we thought maybe going to a school outside of Utah would be the best for him so he can get attention."

The Cougars have 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.

E-MAIL: jhinton@desnews.com