There was a lot of quacking going on at the Heimuli family home on Tuesday.
On the eve of National Signing Day, Brighton star Ricky Heimuli stood in the living room of his home in Glendale in front of roughly 40 family members and announced that he will be playing college football at the University of Oregon.
"I chose this school 'cause it was what I felt inside, not 'cause what anyone said," said Heimuli. "I want to thank Heavenly Father for giving me the blessings to come this far."
Heimuli made his intentions official this morning when he signed a letter of intent during a ceremony at Brighton High and faxed it to the football offices of Pac-10 champion Oregon.
Heimuli had narrowed his college choices down to Oregon, UCLA, Utah and Washington, but in the end he felt most comfortable being an Oregon Duck and playing for Oregon defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro.
"I feel comfortable with this decision, 'cause I got to know my position coach the most. He's the one who recruited me," said Heimuli.
Heimuli is ranked as the 88th best recruit nationally — eighth at his position — by rivals.com, and many figured he'd follow in his cousin Latu Heimuli's footsteps and sign at the University of Utah. It seemed logical as well since he played with Utah coach Kyle Whittingham's son, Alex, at Brighton High the past few years and formed a nice bond with the Ute family.
In the end though, Heimuli believed leaving the state and his tight-knit family was best for him.
"Utah is close to home, but I honestly feel that it's too close. I want to be able to go out and explore the world," said Heimuli. "The sooner I start the sooner I can get used to it and get less home sick, 'cause I'm probably the biggest mama's boy."
At Eugene, Ore. — a campus that Heimuli says is the perfect size — he'll be forced to become more independent.
The 18-year-old will compete for playing time right away as well. Oregon graduated most of its depth on the defensive line last season, and Azzinaro has informed Heimuli that he will step right in and compete for playing time.
After his freshman season, Heimuli plans on serving an LDS Church mission like three of his older siblings, including two brothers who are currently in the mission field.
Unlike many athletes who commit much earlier in the recruiting process, Heimuli was committed to weighing his options as long as possible. Even as late as 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, despite dozens of family members arriving at his home for the announcement, Heimuli sat in his basement bedroom pondering what to do.
"It was very tough, I had a lot of coaches calling me," said Heimuli.
Eventually, a joyful Heimuli emerged from his basement bedroom content in his final decision and declared himself a Duck to his family — most of whom cheered and quacked with approval.