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Harvey Langi announced on national television last weekend that he would play college football at Utah, picking his hometown school over the University of Southern California.

Just how close was it between the two schools?

So close, that at one point the former Bingham running back, the Tribune's 5A MVP last fall, had actually decided to spurn the U. for Tailback U.

It wasn't until a phone with his father Sam, when Langi was in Texas preparing for Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl, that he reversed his decision.

"The beginning of that phone call I was like, 'I'm going to pull the USC hat," Langi said. "By the end of our conversation I'm like, 'Dad, I'm going to go to Utah.'"

Langi said various factors played into his decision, including the proximity to his family, as well as the fact that he thinks he has a chance to earn the starting running back job next season.

"It's wide open right now," Langi said. "I'm going to try to take the opportunity and just work hard and get it."

On NBC's broadcast of the All-American game, in which Langi played sparingly, announcer Lewis Johnson called Langi a linebacker moments before he announced he was going to Utah.

Johnson may not have been that far off.

Langi said he wasn't sure he would get to play running back at USC, which came by its moniker "Tailback U." legitimately after producing running backs such as OJ Simpson, Charles White, Marcus Allen and Reggie Bush.

"I just had a feeling they were going to throw me on defense," he said.

Langi said he would have been academically eligible to go to Stanford, one of his final choices, contrary to some reports. But coach Jim Harbaugh leaving for the San Francisco 49ers was a dealbreaker.

Langi graduated early from Bingham and enrolled at Utah on Monday. He said he has started classes and has gotten settled into his dorm and will start working out with the football team on Monday, even though he won't officially sign with the Utes until National Signing Day on Feb. 2.

• For Langi, there may be an additional perk to signing with Utah. Coach Kyle Whittingham is expected to add offensive guru Norm Chow to his staff this week, according to ace Utes reporter Lya Wodraska.

That's welcome news for Langi, who dealt primarily with Chow, currently UCLA's offensive coordinator, when he was being recruited by the Bruins.

"That would be cool," Langi said, "I'm hoping. When I heard that was even a possibility I was excited." Chow would presumably bring with him his pro-style offense, in which Langi said he thinks he would be a good fit.

Aside from Xs and Os, however, Langi said he simply has a good relationship with the former BYU offensive coordinator.

"When he was recruiting me, when I came down to UCLA he was my main guy," Langi said. "Everytime I needed anything I called him."

He added: "I got to know him, and that was one of the good reasons I wanted to go to UCLA, was because of him."

Now, it looks like he'll get the best of both worlds. — Bill Oram

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