Brenton Allen follows his own path

Brenton Allen has one less thing to worry about.

After struggling with the decision for nearly two months -- play baseball for the UCLA Bruins or Philadelphia Phillies, college life or the minor leagues -- Allen, a ninth-round selection in this year's MLB Draft, finally knows Westwood is where he's heading, citing his "overall future, not just baseball future," as the main reason.

"Honestly, it's the biggest relief I've had in my life," Allen said days before Monday night's signing deadline. "I feel like a kid getting his braces off, just to know that I can focus on one thing and one thing only, know where I'm headed."

After hearing from Phillies representatives, Allen (Cerritos, Calif./Gahr) turned down a six-figure signing bonus and informed UCLA head coach John Savage that he would be following through with his initial commitment. The money was never a big factor for Allen anyway.

"I have friends that have signed some really big contracts out of high school," Allen said. "The number that I wanted was not nearly as high as what (my friends) wanted."

Instead, Allen wanted to invest whatever money he'd get. There wasn't anything he was looking to buy -- Allen just wanted to pay his parents back for the car they bought him and the lasik eye surgery he had done.

"I want to mature, it's one of the reasons why I chose college," Allen said. "I'm a person that can be out on his own, but since I haven't played baseball year-round yet, if I go ahead and stick with it for three years, things will be more beautiful for me coming out [of college.]"

Experiencing UCLA's incoming freshmen orientation also convinced Allen that it was the place to be. He got to know UCLA beyond what happens at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

"When a lot of kids think about getting a scholarship to play a sport, all they really think about is playing a sport," Allen said. "Choosing classes brought me to reality: You're here to study first and play also. To see the greatness UCLA has, besides just sports, helped me lean towards school."

His choice to attend college doesn't change much. Make no mistake about it: Allen still dreams of reaching the big leagues one day. It's a goal he shares with many, but a goal he wants to accomplish in his own way.

"Right now I'm just trying to find my way into UCLA's lineup," he said. "I want to show that I'm here for the club, here to play as hard as possible and help this team get back to the College World Series. I'll pursue the big leagues after that."