His word stood for seven months.
And Bellarmine Prep’s Michael Rector takes that sort of thing seriously. When the University of Washington came calling late last spring and offered the speedy wide receiver a scholarship, he took the Huskies up on it and gave an oral commitment.
But as signing day approached – and came and went Wednesday – Rector’s personal desires changed. So did his decision. He signed with Stanford instead.
Even up to the minute he inked his name to the binding contact, and faxed it to the Cardinal, a part of him was still torn. He grew up a Huskies fan. He always wanted to be part of that family. But it was not meant to be.
“People’s word (of commitment) now in society, it means a lot, and going back on mine it was very tough for me,” Rector said. “It was a difficult thing to tell (UW coaches) a week before that I had a change of heart. But I felt it was something I had to do for me, for my life and for my family.”
Stanford was no newcomer, either. The Cardinal kept an offer open to him since June, and never backed away from it. And in recent weeks, when Rector began having second thoughts about his commitment, Stanford gave him its full attention.
“(The decision) ate at him – and us,” said Tony Rector, his father. “We gave it a lot of thought. We weighed the pluses and minuses of both universities, and we looked beyond football.”
The more dialogue Michael Rector had with Puyallup’s Joshua Garnett, a fellow Stanford signee, about the Cardinal’s football outlook, and the university’s academic reputation, the more he swayed from the UW.
Finally last week, Rector phoned UW coach Steve Sarkisian to tell him of his decision to attend Stanford.
“They were disappointed and sad, and I understand that,” Rector said. “We handled it professionally.”
And even though Rector tried to keep it as secretive as possible, word got out the past couple days that he planned on signing with Stanford on Wednesday, which he did – joining a late wave of talented incoming recruits to the Cardinal, including offensive linemen Andrus Peat and Kyle Murphy; defensive lineman Aziz Shittu; and safety Zach Hoffpauir, who was once a California commit.
“It came down to the education for me,” Rector said. “Both schools have great (football) programs, but my parents have sacrificed so much for me to have the top education possible, and I wanted to continue that trend.”
SINGING FIGHT SONG
Walker Williams became the third player in 21 seasons of Tacoma Baptist Schools football to sign an NCAA Division I scholarship when he officially joined Wisconsin.
In his school’s library, Williams gave 50 students and faculty members a glimpse of what Badgers football is all about, showing a promotional video from the team’s game against Nebraska last season.
But the big surprise came at the 6-foot-7, 320-pound offensive tackle’s expense. Crusaders coach Mark Smith announced to the crowd that his standout would sing the Wisconsin fight song – “On, Wisconsin!” – as a solo.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” said Williams, who was a sport about it and sang loudly, even if he was a tad off key.
“I did not see the lyrics until they popped it up on the screen. I am going to definitely know it better in the years to come – after the Wisconsin coaches see that.”
In total, Williams received eight offers, including a late one from Ohio State.
PATRIOTS TO COUGS
For a while, Jacob Tuivaiave wasn’t sure if he’d sign a letter of intent to play at Washington State University.
After WSU hired Mike Leach, the new coach’s staff re-evaluated the 19 players who had orally committed to the Cougars. For various reasons, nine were told they no longer had offers.
“After I heard Coach Leach was coming, I was kind of nervous if he’d drop me like those nine guys,” Tuivaiave said. “Once I heard from him, it was a great feeling.”
On Wednesday, the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Washington High standout signed with the Cougars. Tuivaiave took his official visit to WSU last week and left impressed and excited.
“My impression of Coach Leach was great,” he said. “He’s a great guy. His vision for WSU is very clear. I like how he came in and changed everything around.”
Tuivaiave played linebacker – and at times defensive end – for the Patriots, earning SPSL 2A Defensive Player of the Year honors. A position switch could be in his future.
Washington coach Mike Von Rueden said he shouldn’t have much difficulty making the transition to defensive end if that’s how WSU decides to use him.
“We had some big guys and he moves so well we had him at linebacker,” Von Rueden said. “Yeah, he’s got some great, tough highlights with his hands down (at defensive end). He uses his hands well in that position. And he’s just going to get bigger.”
Tuivaiave is thought to be the first Patriots player to sign with a major college football program since Lew Bush, who played at WSU and was selected in the fourth round of the 1993 NFL draft.
LAKES CRANKS ’EM OUT
For a third day in a row, football jerseys were laid out on tables on stage at Lakes High’s performing arts center.
This time, there was no media horde and no suspense over what school an All-American football recruit would pick. Just five football teammates and volleyball player Anitaka Knight getting the spotlight after they each signed letters of intent.
“Not many schools can equal this,” said USC-bound offensive tackle Zach Banner. “We had two All-Americans, two guys going to D-II schools, another going to Idaho, and that’s not all. There will be other guys that sign and other guys that walk-on.”
Banner said he had no second thoughts since orally committing to USC on Monday.
“I’m happy,” he said. “We’ve got a top-10 recruiting class and we’ll be competing for national championships every year for the next four years.”
A day after pledging California, receiver Cedric Dozier signed with the Golden Bears and safety Ma’ne Manaea committed to Idaho.
Manaea is looking forward to changing expectations at Idaho.
“I know people rip the program and say it is a down school and they don’t win a lot,” he said. “I look at it as an opportunity for me to come out and star.”
Manaea said he’s looking forward to roaming the Vandals’ secondary with O’Dea standout Jayshawn Jordan.
“With me and Jayshawn going to Idaho, me and him together,” he said, “that’s a 1-2 punch on defense.”
Central Washington University got commitments from running back Levonte Littlejohn and linebacker Charles Hall Jr.
Littlejohn was offered a spot as a preferred walk-on to WSU last week, but he said he never really considered it.
“Central felt like a better fit for me,” he said. “At WSU, I felt like I wouldn’t have had the chance to play as much as I would at Central.”
Knight, a second-team all-SPSL 3A volleyball selection, will play at Tacoma Community College.