- Erik McKinney, ESPN Staff Writer
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REDLANDS, Calif. -- Defensive end Kylie Fitts (Redlands, Calif./Redlands East Valley) didn't expect to be in this position last spring.
When he committed to USC in April 2012 and set his fall schedule to allow for early enrollment at Troy, Fitts figured he would be well into his first semester as a Trojan the day before signing day. Instead, the nation's No. 8 defensive end and No. 85 prospect in the ESPN 150 traveled to his high school on Tuesday to announce his commitment to the UCLA Bruins.
"I believe they have the greatest coaching staff in the nation and they are on the rise," said Fitts of UCLA.
While it is almost always something of a surprise when a recruit who considers USC his dream school ends up signing with UCLA over an offer from the Trojans, Fitts' pledge to the Bruins seemed inevitable as soon as USC coaches told the defensive end that there wouldn't be a spot available for him to enroll early. That news came just days before Fitts was scheduled to begin taking classes at USC and sent Fitts reeling. And back onto the open recruiting market.
Several schools, including UCLA, pounced. The Bruins quickly scheduled an in-home visit and brought along a handful of coaches. They also set up an official visit for Fitts, who also took late trips to Notre Dame and Utah. USC continued to push for a commitment, but in the end, Fitts opted for UCLA, where he will still be able to enroll early, due to the quarter system at UCLA.
He said he'll be ready for spring ball on April 5.
"Sunday after the Utah visit, I went to USC to talk with [USC coach Lane] Kiffin," he said. "I said I'm passed everything and let's move on. We got down to the basics of how USC was recruiting me. I kind of knew right after that that USC is a great place, but UCLA is better."
Fitts is the fifth ESPN 300 defensive prospect to commit to the Bruins, and fills a need at defensive end for UCLA, which had yet to receive a commitment from a prospect at that position.
Moreover, it's another blow to USC's recruiting class, which was the No. 1-ranked group in the country for much of the summer, but has sustained loss after loss since that time. Fitts is one of six players to decommit from USC, joining wide receivers Eldridge Massington and Sebastian LaRue, athlete Max Redfield, defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes and most recently Jason Hatcher, who flipped to Kentucky on Tuesday.
On the other side, the UCLA Bruins are more than happy to scoop up Fitts and add him to a class that could eventually challenge the Trojans for the top group in the Pac-12.