For Carmel High School receiver Austin Roberts, the best offer was saved for last.
After Roberts received more than 20 scholarship offers, UCLA finally offered last week. In a few days, UCLA went from what Roberts described as a dark-horse possibility to his favorite.
Roberts announcedhis verbal commitment to UCLA in an interview with The Indianapolis Star on Wednesday. Prior to the UCLA offer, Roberts had been primarily focused on offers from Ohio State, Florida, Alabama, Miami and Louisville.
The 6-2, 215-pound Roberts is listed as the No. 1 player in the state’s Class of 2014 by Rivals.com and ESPN.
Roberts delivered the news to Bruins coach Jim Mora on Saturday while Mora was vacationing in Paris. Even Mora told Roberts he felt it was a long shot Roberts would accept because the offer came late in the process.
Mora, a former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks coach and son of the former Colts coach of the same name, led UCLA to a 9-5 record in his first season.
“Coach Jim Mora definitely is the man to bring UCLA back to prominence,” Roberts said. “They have a couple highly rated NFL prospects there and a great recruiting class. I can’t wait to get there and help them win a Rose Bowl.”
Roberts’ maternal grandfather and some cousins live in Los Angeles. His mother, Angel, is originally from Los Angeles.
“When I was there, I realized how important my West Coast family was to me,” Roberts said. “I definitely wanted to be with them a lot more. (UCLA) had a great plan for me playing-wise. They have great academics, a great campus and people. Everything felt right there.”
Roberts is considering a career in broadcasting. He had considered an offer from USC but felt UCLA was a better fit.
It certainly helped that his father, Indianapolis Colts tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts, has worked with Bruins receivers coach Eric Yarber in the past. They were members of Tampa Bay’s coaching staff under Raheem Morris, who was fired after the 2011 season.
“Eric is a family friend, and I know how he’ll teach and coach the kid,” Alfredo said. “Football-wise they are executing a scheme that fits his skill set well. I know it’s going to be a distance but it was going to be a distance anywhere he goes.”
Roberts was invited to play the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio in January.
Despite being hampered by a nagging turf toe injury and a concussion last season, Roberts had 32 catches for 378 yards and five touchdowns for the Greyhounds. As a sophomore, he played for Plant High School’s Class 8A state championship team in Tampa, Fla.