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Highland’s Ngata headed to Oregon — not BYU

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If Highland High football star Haloti Ngata could re-live his recruiting process three-year recruiting process again, he would do one thing differently — keep his mouth shut.

He would have waited until Tuesday, the first official national letter of intent signing day, to make his intentions known. It wasn't worth the headache it's caused him and his family.

Tuesday morning, the 6-foot-4, 310-pound highly recruited defensive tackle signed with the University of Oregon.

"I just want to tell the world that I'm going to the University of Oregon," Ngata said. "Now the weight is off my shoulders. I guess I have to go and impress the world."

In early December, Ngata verbally committed to the University of Nebraska and a month later changed his mind and withdrew his commitment and committed to BYU.

He said, after consulting his family and his faith, he made his final decision to attend Oregon Monday evening.

Even after his "100 percent" commitment to BYU last month, Ngata was still somewhat unsure of his decision. The phone calls and visits from Oregon kept coming, and he also made an unofficial visit to the University of Utah just last week.

"I think it's a better place for me to be with the competition," Ngata said.

The No. 2 Ducks (11-1) won the Pac-10 championship and beat Colorado, 38-16, in the Fiesta Bowl.

With the binding letter of intent, Ngata cannot change his mind and attend another Division I program next year without penalty. He could be granted a release from the school, but if Oregon denied him, like the University of Nebraska did former Granger standout Manaia Brown, Ngata would have to sit out a year or transfer to a Division I-AA program or smaller.

Many Internet and other published reports have painted the picture that he was being pulled in opposite directions by his uncle, Haloti Moala, and his parents, Solomone and Olga Ngata. Moala, who is Olga's brother, said he was portrayed as the "monster," when in reality Haloti Ngata consulted his uncle and parents concerning his intentions during the entire process.

"My parents supported me and I know they will be there for me when I need them," Ngata said.

"There is no question there were a lot of comments taken out of context, and I felt it very unfair to the family that they had to be exposed to something they are not," former Highland coach Larry Wilson said. "This is a very close, loving family that has supported each other for their entire lives."

"I called my brother and I talked with him and (I said) whatever is going on out there we have to show the world that we are very close and that we support each other," Olga Ngata said. "Today we have shown how close we are."

Ngata is a two-time Deseret News first-team all-state selection and was named the 2001 Utah Gatorade player of the year. He was also selected at a Parade Magazine All-American.

E-MAIL: jhinton@desnews.com