In mid-June, Michael Rector committed to the hometown Washington Huskies.
“It was my hometown school and at the time it felt right,” Rector said. “It felt like the right place for me.”
Nonetheless, a few days later, Rector took Stanford up on its invitation to participate in the Cardinal’s summer football camp and Junior Day. It turned out to be a wise choice.
“They asked me to come down to camp in June and that’s when it all began,” Rector said. “I went down to camp, did a two-day thing there and I went to Junior Day. I got offered when I was down there for camp. It was really sweet. I really liked it. It was a really cool environment and it was a really beautiful place.”
Rector didn’t initially make any chances in his commitment, but did decide to consider the Stanford offer, mostly due to the school’s prestigious academics.
“After they offered me, my parents and I talked about it,” Rector said. “We didn’t see why we should shut a school out of it without giving them a chance, especially with a school like Stanford. My parents have always sent me to the top education possible in private schools. That was really important to us throughout the process.”
Rector’s contact with Stanford gradually increased after the camp and throughout the football season.
“It kept on building and building and we stared talking to them more,” Rector said. “Coach Hart started visiting the school and we had some visits and it kind of took off in December/January before signing day.”
Another key in Stanford’s recruitment of Rector was his official visit to The Farm. Rector visited in late November for the Notre Dame game.
“It was fun,” Rector said. “I met all of the coaching staff and it was good for my mom to see that too. And then I hung out with Charlie Hopkins. That was fun, hanging out with the players, getting to know some of the players and some of the other recruits. Just a fun time hanging out with everybody.”
Rector said he was initially drawn to the aesthetics of the Stanford campus, the rapport among the players on the team, and the game atmosphere.
“Just the beauty of the campus and the closeness of the players,” Rector said of the trip’s highlights. “That was really attractive to me. And the game environment was pretty cool, just being on the field for pregame and after the game and in the locker rooms. It was a neat thing to see.
Soon after his visit, in early December, Rector submitted his Stanford application. He received a positive admissions decision later that month.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Rector said of being admitted. “It was a surreal experience. Emotions ran through my body just to know that I’ve been admitted to one of the world’s most prestigious universities. And not just because of football, but because of academics too. That’s saying something about the hard work that my parents and I have put in.”
After getting accepted, Rector mulled over his two finalists before coming to a decision a week before signing day.
“A week before signing day, the Wednesday before signing day, I talked to the UW coaches and then I talked to Coach Shaw,” Rector said.
“Obviously Washington was very disappointed, and I can understand that from where they’re coming from, but I just told them that I felt that Stanford is a better fit for me with what I wanted to do now and with what I wanted to do with my future. On the other hand, the Stanford coaching staff was ecstatic. They were happy about it and they were excited to hear the news.”
Ultimately, Stanford’s academic offerings outweighed the allure of staying close to home for Rector.
“At first, what was keeping me was the location, because I wanted to be close to my family,” Rector said. “But like I said earlier, my parents sacrificed a lot to put me in the best position possible school-wise, to get me the best education, to put me in private schools, and I just didn’t want to break that trend. I wanted to make them proud and ultimately for me it came down to the academics that really got me along with the great football team, that was just an added bonus.”
When Rector enrolls at Stanford, he’ll likely play the ‘Z’ receiver position (Griff Whalen’s old spot) with the goal of earning early playing time.
“They want me to play the ‘Z’ position,” Rector said. “I expect to come in and battle for a position, battle with the guys, and hopefully get some playing time next year. When I come in, I want to help the team whichever way possible, and if that’s me playing then I’ll play, if that’s me redshirting than I’ll redshirt, but I expect to come in and definitely challenge for one of the spots at receiver. I think that the coaches really like the fact that I have some speed that they’ve been lacking kind of at the wide receiver position and I think that I can get in there and help them.”
When he arrives on campus over summer, Rector will be joined by the other members of one of Stanford’s best-ever recruiting classes, a group ranked No. 6 in the nation by Scout.com.
“It’s amazing,” Rector said. “It just shows the kind of class and the kind of kids that Stanford is bringing in, not only bringing in football players but they’re bringing in kids that are ready to learn, eager to learn, and smart students.”
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