Michael Rector’s path to this NFL combine has taken him from Gig Harbor to Tacoma, to attend Bellarmine Prep. Then to Stanford.
And now to the Seahawks – to connect with a fellow former Stanford receiver, at least.
Rector said Friday here at the league’s annual scouting summit he has been talking to Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin about how to best prepare himself for entry into the NFL.
Rector is an under-the-radar prospect here; he was at a side table in a corner of a large room inside the Indiana Convention Center talking to three folks while the top dozen or so receivers here got podiums from which to speak to the media on Friday. Yet Rector already has a big head start over what Baldwin had coming out of Stanford in 2011. Baldwin didn’t even get invited by the league to the combine. Now he’s gone from undrafted to Seattle’s record-setting, Pro Bowl wide receiver one season into a $46 million contract extension.
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“I’ve talked to Doug,” Rector said. “I talk to ‘Sherm’ (Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, another Stanford man) a couple times, but Doug more so just because he went to Stanford and he plays receiver.
“He talks about the underdog role, how he went undrafted and how he has a chip on his shoulder all the time.”
Hmmm.... Doug Baldwin angry, with a chip on his shoulder? Say it ain’t so.
The son of Tony and LoAnn Rector, who still live in Gig Harbor, Michael scored 23 goals in soccer as a junior at Bellarmine Prep and was getting recruited by the University of San Francisco in that sport as a sophomore before he quit soccer prior to his senior year of high school. After committing to Washington for nine months at the end of his junior year at Bellarmine, Stanford continued to recruit him. He eventually signed with the Cardinal.
“Coming from Bellarmine, they really put academics first. That’s what really wanted me to go to Stanford, was the academics they had. They are good at football – and great at academics, too.
“That’s what molded me into the person that I am, a person that wanted to do well in football and in school.”
Rector caught 14 passes as a freshman – for a whopping average of 30.8 yards per catch. Then had 24 and 34 receptions in his sophomore and junior seasons for Stanford. He set his college career high with seven touchdown receptions as a junior for a Rose Bowl team, then had 32 catches and three touchdowns last season – when UW won the Pac-12 instead.
He earned a degree in human biology. During last season he conducted stem-cell research in a Stanford laboratory with Dr. Michael Longaker. That’s the lab program in which Puyallup’s Joshua Garnett, a draft choice by the San Francisco 49ers last year, participated while at Stanford.
“I graduated, thankfully. And now I’m here,” Rector said, smiling. “I think it’s just the morals instilled in Bellarmine pushed me to be where I am right now.”
Rector said he’s learning at this combine how those receiving numbers don’t mean everything, that coming from Stanford’s pro-style offense makes for a transition to what NFL teams want easier than it is for most prospects in today’s spread-happy college football world.
He said the weirdest question he’s gotten from teams here in interviews has been: “What was your best blocking game?”
“As a receiver you don’t think the first question they are going to ask you is about your blocking game,” Rector said.
“My response was, ‘Put up any tape from Stanford. We run the ball. A lot. So the blocking game is big.’ ”
His goal is to run below 4.4 in the 40-yard dash here on Saturday, something Stanford coach David Shaw thinks Rector can do and thus rise up team’s draft boards.
What is Rector telling teams that ask how he can help them?
“That I’m a good guy just willing to work hard and do whatever I can to help the team’s success,” he said. “However big, however small the role is I just want to compete and help contribute to the team’s success.”
Like Baldwin did coming out of Stanford six years ago, does Rector think he has the chip on his shoulder to enter the NFL?
Does Rector feel like he has that chip on his shoulder entering the NFL?
“I feel like I do,” he said with a grin. “I feel like I definitely am an underdog. I feel I am going to go out there and show the world what I can do.
“I think just coming from Stanford, being a receiver, we don’t get the same opportunities as some wide receivers that run the spread. And I knew that going into it, so I’m OK with it.
“But I feel like I can do what everyone else is doing.”