Mililani QB Dillon Gabriel signs with UCF

Mililani '19 quarterback Dillon Gabriel signed Wednesday afternoon to play collegiate football at the University of Central Florida. Jim Lebeau | SL

MILILANI — Dillon Gabriel, the state's all-time leader in passing yards, signed his National Letter of Intent to attend the University of Central Florida in a small ceremony at the Mililani High School library Wednesday afternoon.

The Mililani senior announced his decision while surrounded by his family and friends. Gabriel, a 6-foot, 190-pound quarterback, chose the Knights over the University of Southern California and Georgia. He opened up his recruiting last month after previously giving a verbal commitment to Army.

"It was definitely a tough choice in terms of they're all great schools, but when it came down to it, it was where I was comfortable with, where I felt gave me my best option and, you know, when it came down to it, UCF just checked all the boxes for me," Gabriel said.

Gabriel said that he made his final decision two days prior.

"I made the decision on Monday. Like I said, it was very tough, you know, a lot of thinking, but when it came down to it, it fit me," Gabriel said. "I have some family down there as well, so overall UCF is the place I want to be."

The school's Orlando campus "felt like home," Gabriel added.

"I think it's just a unique community. It reminds me a lot of like home and that's probably the reason I want to be there. Shoot, I loved the visit, it was genuine people, the coaching will develop me and I think on the academic side, I'll definitely get a good education," he said.

Gabriel will join his former Mililani teammate and fellow quarterback McKenzie Milton at UCF. Milton, a 2016 Mililani graduate, finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting earlier this month.

"Me and Kenzie talk day to day, we're very close and him being there is definitely a plus. It didn't really, I guess, count in where I wanted to go, but him being there is definitely a plus and to have someone from Hawaii be at UCF, it's very good," Gabriel said.

Another familiarity for Gabriel will be the Knights' high-powered, no huddle offense — much like the one he ran for the Trojans the past three years.

"Definitely. The scheme, you know, is the same. It fits me and when I got to sit down and talk about the offense, a lot of things translate," Gabriel said. "I think the transition will be a lot easier for me in terms of learning the offense. A lot of concepts are the same, so I think for me it'll work for me."

Gabriel said that when USC hired former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury as its new offensive coordinator recently, it did have an impact on his recruitment, but not enough to pick the Trojans over UCF.

"It did. Like I said, I went through all three. Really, it was a hard decision. I looked at all three and all of them are great schools, I think, and it's just that this was the best fit for me," Gabriel said.

Included among the list of proteges that Kingsbury has worked with at various coaching stops are Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who leads the NFL in passing yards and passing touchdowns this season.

Gabriel, who will graduate from high school a semester early and enroll at UCF next month, completed 56.7 percent of his passes for 3,754 yards with 38 touchdowns against 13 interceptions this season. He led the Trojans to a 10-3 overall record, an Oahu Interscholastic Association Open Division championship and a 38-17 loss against top-ranked Saint Louis in the state title game last month.

Earlier in the day, Gabriel's high school teammate, Darius Muasau, signed with the University of the Hawaii. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Muasau was a first team All-OIA linebacker the past two seasons.

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected]