An 18th birthday is something to look forward to no matter who you are but when you’re Devin Fuller, it’s also a day college coaches and fans are looking forward to in the hopes they might add a truly special person to their university.
Family, friends, teammates, coaches and members of multiple television stations and newspapers all packed into Sear restaurant in Closter to see number 7 decide he was headed west and commiting to the University of California, Los Angeles.
“I’m proud of everything he’s accomplished but I’m most proud of the man he is today at age 18,” Devin’s father Bart said after the ceremony. “Ever since he was little this was something he dreamed of, he has worked really hard to get to this point and he always looked at it as an honor to be recognized for that hard work and to an honor to be wanted. This is a great day and I’m extremely happy for him.”
Fuller’s decision would inevitably crush college football fans dreams across the country as 31 other universities had made scholarship offers to the Old Tappan quarterback but in the end UCLA was just where he felt most comfortable.
“It can definitely be overwhelming at times," Devin said. "I had to really lean on my parents and coaches because it can be hectic having so many people selling their school’s so hard and showing you what makes their school so great. But I trusted the people closest to me and I think I made the right choice in the end.”
Many folks in the area were curious to see if Fuller would join a growing list of New Jersey high school standouts that are on the Rutgers football roster but after head coach Greg Schiano decided to leave the program to take a job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this week, Fuller wanted a place with more stability at the top.
“You could say that,” Devin responded when asked if Rutgers was the favorite before Schiano’s departure. “It was heartbreaking having to tell them no, I felt at home there too but it came down to making the best decision and I think UCLA was it.”
Fuller made no qualms about the fact he is looking to stay under center as he transitions to the college game, something he felt that former NFL coach Jim Mora Jr.’s pass-heavy offense could offer him. For parents Bart and Cindy it was just about finding a place where Devin would be happy and comfortable.
“Where are you going to be happy even if you’re not playing football,” said Bart. “For him I think that was the biggest factor he considered, if you’re just happy being at the school, football becomes a plus. It doesn’t hurt to have your aunt down the road for a home cooked meal either."
Before selecting the baby blue and gold Bruins hat off the table, those in attendance were treated to a montage of Fuller’s football career all the way back through pop warner. One thing was brutally clear watching Fuller embarrass would-be tacklers (even as a youngster) New Jersey is losing one of the best talents and nicest kids to ever lace up cleats in the Garden State. It’s time now for that kid to become a man and the people he will leave behind certainly will not forget his greatness anytime soon.
“It was fun while it lasted, but I’m 18 now and it’s time to become a man," he said. "It’s a new and exciting chapter in my life and I can’t wait to make a name for myself on the college level. It should be a lot of fun.”