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March 20, 2014

Five-star Rosen headed to UCLA

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BELLFLOWER, Calif. -- Josh Rosen committed to UCLA on Thursday setting up storylines usually dreamed up by Hollywood screenwriters.

If commitments stick, Rosen, the top-rated pro-style quarterback and No. 2 prospect by Rivals.com, will be playing for the Bruins at the same time Ricky Town, the No. 2 pro-style quarterback and eighth-best recruit, is across town playing for rival USC.

"A lot went into the decision," Rosen said. "I just had to know I'm not going somewhere just to play football, I'm going to a university -- a school -- for the next four years of my life," Rosen said. "Ultimately, I felt UCLA was the right decision for me. ... I'm definitely going to UCLA."

No starting jobs are guaranteed. The two might not be the starters for years. But the situation is setting itself up nicely with the top two pro-style quarterbacks in this class playing only miles apart for bitter Pac-12 rivals.

Rosen looking to continue UCLA's push for dominance in the Pac-12 -- the Bruins have beaten USC in two straight seasons during former coach Lane Kiffin's regime. Town hoping to reignite the powerhouse USC program under new coach Steve Sarkisian, who starts his first season this fall.

It's a ways off and specific things have to fall into place but Los Angeles always yearns for a good story and what's better than this one for college football fans? Rosen downplayed the significance of two five-stars in the same class, at the same position, competing miles away from each other.

"It's just competition," Rosen said. "It's fun for media to have fun with that storyline. I'm on my team and anyone I play against is on theirs. We have to put our pads on, go at it and see who comes out on top."

Rosen picking UCLA was hardly high drama. The five-star quarterback from Bellflower St. John Bosco has taken numerous trips to the campus, had many meetings with the coaching staff, knows a lot of the players, is a family friend of coach Jim Mora. The two families live in Manhattan Beach.

If Rosen was staying in Southern California, there was little surprise that UCLA would be the place.

Some eyebrows -- and blood pressures -- were raised in Westwood last week, however, when Rosen decided to take an unofficial visit to Michigan.

Despite Rosen's reassurances to the UCLA coaches he was solid to the Bruins, Michigan is Michigan. That's coach Bo Schembechler and that's The Big House with all of its 109,901 seats and that's Desmond Howard doing his infamous Heisman Trophy pose and that's Maize & Blue. For UCLA, that's not good.

Rosen did not hide his excitement about the Michigan trip hours after returning from Ann Arbor to participate in the Pylon Sports 7-on-7 in Las Vegas last weekend.

During casual conversation he said if he wasn't so locked in with UCLA, Michigan gave him a lot to consider. He raved about the football history there and the academics -- truly important to someone taking numerous AP classes -- and he seemed to really hit it off with offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier in Ann Arbor.

Strikingly honest, Rosen said he hoped to dislike the Michigan visit to reaffirm his decision on UCLA. He loved the Michigan trip but it still was not enough to overtake the Bruins to land his commitment.

"I thought I was going there to reaffirm my decision, it's too cold, I hate it, it's not where I want to be," Rosen said. "That trip made it a much tougher decision. I came back to L.A. and reassessed my decision and was really confident in my decision."

Getting Rosen this early is huge for UCLA, which also boasts four-star tight end Alize Jones, four-star athlete Jaason Lewis and three-star recruits Victor Alexander and Bolu Olorunfunmi in its 2015 recruiting class.

Rosen is the crown jewel for the Bruins not only as a potential quarterback star for years to come but for recruiting purposes now. Four-star receiver Cordell Broadus has made it no secret he and Rosen have a connection and that could influence his decision.

Many other receivers could be persuaded to pick UCLA because of Rosen's commitment. While across town, with Town in USC's hip pocket, similar tactics are most likely being used in the recruiting game.

The 2015 class in California is phenomenally loaded. It could be one of the better classes in the last decade, if not longer. There is talent across the board at nearly even position. Five five-stars are already in the class and more could come throughout the cycle.

The two five-star quarterbacks, Rosen and Town, have picked UCLA and USC, respectively. Much will be written about the incredible talent in California's 2015 class.

Much could be written about a rivalry that is about to get more heated with Rosen and Town possibly leading the Bruins and Trojans to Pac-12 prominence in a city that's always aching for a hearty story to tell.

They're still just juniors in high school but Rosen and Town have such talent, such promise, that this story might just be starting.


Adam Gorney is a West Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.



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