Aaron Garbutt very nearly committed to Ole Miss during his official visit to the Oxford, Miss., campus earlier this month.
The defensive back from Fullerton (Calif.) Community College fought off the temptation and returned to the West Coast, determined to take more visits before he announced a decision.
Garbutt, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound California native, visited Washington one week later. Then things crystallized.
"It wasn't too tough," said Garbutt, who announced his decision to sign with Ole Miss on Christmas Eve. "What led me there was after the trip (to Ole Miss), my decision was clear. After my trip to Washington, I knew where I wanted to go.
"School wasn't even in (during his official visit to Ole Miss), and I had a really good time. I can only imagine the atmosphere when everyone's there. It was a good environment. I loved it."
Garbutt's commitment was welcome news in Oxford. The Rebels' secondary, already a weak spot during a 4-8 campaign in 2010, was hit by graduation. Garbutt can play safety, but he said Ole Miss' coaches have told him he'll start out at cornerback.
"They think I can do a good job there," Garbutt said. "I have no preference. I'll play anywhere as long as I'm playing. …They're telling me I can come in and make an instant impact on the team and make a run for a starting job. They're bringing in some guys looking for some leadership and know what they're doing. That's why they went the J.C. route a little bit."
Garbutt, who grew up in Orange County, laughed Monday when he was asked what he would have told someone years ago if they had predicted he would one day play college football in Mississippi.
"I probably would've told them they're tripping and they didn't know what they were talking about, but I was very surprised to have chance to play in the SEC at Ole Miss," Garbutt said. "I was happy, too."
Garbutt failed to qualify out of high school. Instead of sulking, Garbutt applied himself at Fullerton, earning all-conference honors following his freshman season and preseason All-American honors prior to the 2010 season.
"I learned a lot of patience," Garbutt said. "I just learned how to accept what I've got, make the most out of it and keep pushing to get to the next level."
Garbutt also had offers from New Mexico State and SMU.
"I'm done with recruiting," Garbutt said. "I don't want to take any more (visits). I'm pretty sure I'm done. I'm good."