HUNTINGTON BEACH — Jordan Zumwalt sat down at the table next to teammate Roman Sapolu on Wednesday morning at the Edison High football office.
In front of Zumwalt, the senior who earned Sunset League and CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division Defensive Player of the Year honors this past season, were hats from three schools — UCLA, Stanford and USC.
“Do I just grab one?” he asked.
Zumwalt said he had played the video game “Call of Duty” until 4 a.m. that morning. Now, he was about to make public a very important decision on National Signing Day.
And he did, picking up the UCLA hat with the embroidered “B” on the front before signing his national letter of intent to play for the Bruins.
“It was a really hard decision,” Zumwalt said. “I’m not going to lie ? It was just a gut feeling. It makes a lot of sense.”
Sapolu also signed his letter of intent to Oregon State on Wednesday. Fountain Valley running back Kyle Middlebrooks signed with Arizona State, while Ocean View lineman Kody Afusia signed with Hawaii.
Those three football commitments were already known, but Zumwalt waited until Wednesday to announce his decision. He had made a verbal commitment to Stanford, but in the end he said he decided to stay closer to home after talking to the Edison coaching staff and his parents, Rick and Nanette.
Zumwalt — a 6-foot-4, 218 pound linebacker who led Edison with 164 tackles, despite playing part of the year with a broken left hand — said he took an official trip to USC over the weekend. He then came back to Orange County before deciding to go back up to visit at UCLA.
“I just felt it was right,” Zumwalt said. “I don’t know how to explain it. I talked to the coaches here a lot and the players a lot. I just want to thank everyone. I’ve been taught to be a really good guy here.”
Linebacker was an area the Bruins had been wanting to address, and Zumwalt has the possibility of starting as a freshman for Coach Rick Neuheisel. And he will be joined in Westwood by one of his best friends, Edison senior lineman Luke Gane. Gane, who recovered from aplastic anemia two years ago to be a two-way starter for the Chargers this year, said Wednesday he has accepted a preferred walk-on spot at UCLA, as well.
Rick Zumwalt played at Arizona State, and the Sun Devils were Jordan’s favorite team growing up.
“I discussed it with my dad,” he said with a grin. “Like, what if I pulled an Arizona State hat out of my pants at the last second?”
To get to the quarterback with the Bruins, he also might have to be blocked by the Beavers’ Sapolu at times.
“We’ve planned it out,” Zumwalt joked. “He’s going to give me a play and I’m going to give him a play.”
Zumwalt has also been wrestling at heavyweight recently for the Edison wrestling team.
Sapolu, the son of former San Francisco 49ers all-pro center and Edison assistant Jesse Sapolu, was an early commit to Oregon State and never wavered from that decision. His older brother, London, is moving on to play center at Hawaii after playing at OCC and his other older brother, Luke, just finished his career at Central Oklahoma.
Roman Sapolu, one of three Sunset League Offensive Linemen of the Year, moved from right tackle to center this year for Edison. He said his dad has been very supportive throughout the process.
“It feels good,” Sapolu said of signing his letter of intent. “It’s one step closer to going out there [to play]. I’m ready to go.”