- Scott Powers, Reporter
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HICKORY HILLS, Ill. -- With five fitted hats in front of him, St. Rita defensive end Bruce Gaston eliminated possible college destinations by pretending to put each one on and then dropping them to the ground during a press conference on Tuesday night.
Boston College, which was represented by a Boston Red Sox hat, was knocked out first. Next, it was Notre Dame. Michigan State was the third to go. Gaston then picked up the Purdue and Wisconsin hats. After switching between the two, he put them both by his sides and joked he wasn't going to college.
Then with a big smile on his face, he let go of the Wisconsin hat and placed the Purdue cap on his head. His family and friends, who were gathered at Prime Time Restaurant in Hickory Hills, Ill., burst into applause.
"I picked Purdue because I felt it was the best situation for me in everything I wanted in life after football, in life after high school football," Gaston said. "I thought it would be the best college experience for me. I enjoyed every other colleges I went to. By far, it wasn't a win by a landslide. Some other schools I thought I could definitely go to and be happy and have no regrets.
"At the end of the day, choosing between No. 2 and No. 2 is the same thing. You just got to sign something to pick one. I believe Purdue is the most comfortable place for me."
Gaston, a 6-foot-2, 290-pound lineman, was an ESPNChicago.com all-area player and finished with 99 tackles and 16 sacks during his senior season.
St. Rita coach Todd Kuska believed Gaston has a high ceiling at the next level.
"I think he's a kid who can come in physically and be ready to help on the field," Kuska said. "He's got some fine-tuning to do as everyone has to do making that adjustment. They're not getting a finished product by any means, but he's got a lot of upside. He's strong, physical and quick. Those are three you can't teach. You got to do them."
Gaston shared high expectations for his career at Purdue.
"Now I'm there, my goal is to keep working out and get into shape, coming in and try to play as a true freshman, get me on a spot on the team," Gaston said. "I see us possibly winning a Big Ten championship, compete for a national championship. That's what I see. That's what I expect from the school and the program."
Gaston made the decision on Monday, but wasn't stress-free until announcing it on Tuesday.
"I was happy and comfortable, but it wasn't as clear until after I just got out it now," Gaston said. "Now, I'll be able to go home and get a real good night sleep, you know. I'm going to go home, after you all leave I'm going to eat because I'm scare to eat on TV. It's feels so much better now that I have it out. I just feel so relieved now. "
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