Future Impact: Christian Rector

Loyola defensive end Christian Rector becomes commitment No. 15 for USC in the 2015 class as a rush end -- one of two hybrid linebacker positions in the Trojans new defensive scheme.

Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola defensive end Christian Rector made his commitment to USC at an interesting time.

Just as the Trojans lose SAM linebacker Jabari Ruffin for the season with a ACL tear, questions about the depth USC has at outside linebacker are paramount. Although Rector plays with his hand on the ground in high school, he will stand up in college.

Loyola head coach Marvin Sanders knows plenty about the Trojans. As a former defensive backs coach at USC, Sanders has had a long career developing college athletes.

On the subject of Rector, he had unique insight into Christian's commitment and its impact on the Trojans current roster.

“Well he’s very athletic,” said Sanders. “He’s a former basketball player and moves well. He’s got great lateral movement, and I am going to stand him up some this year, so we’ll get a chance to see him in that role.

“But he runs well and the good things you look for is a guy with great lateral movement and a guy that can run. He has both those dimensions.”

A defensive end capably of knifing into the offensive backfield, Rector had six sacks as a junior and numerous tackles for losses. But at USC, Rector will have to add a new dimension to his game.
 
“Well we’re going to work on his coverage skills,” said Sanders. “Of course, I’ve had his hand in the ground time most of the time. Now I’ve been really working on getting him involved in the coverage aspect.

“That position, like an Anthony Barr, has to be able to get out and get in coverage on a back sometimes. Sometimes on a slot receiver and that’s what he doesn’t have a lot of experience in, so he’s going to really have to work on that aspect of it.”

Rector is currently listed between 225-pounds and 235-pounds by most recruiting publications. According to Sanders, those numbers are grossly inaccurate

“No, he’s about 245 (pounds),” laughed Sanders. “Actually about 247 is the last time we weighed him. Christian has a thick lower body and his weight (will vary) depending on how big they want him at the next level.

“I think he can hold 260-pounds easily and even can get bigger if that’s what they want. That will be interesting depending on what their need is for.”

One look at the USC target list at linebacker, and it’s apparent that bigger is better for USC. 

As of now, the Trojans have senior J.R. Tavai and sophomore Scott Starr and freshmen Don Hill and Malik Dorton playing the rush end spot. Dorton has also seen increased time at defensive end in fall camp.

While playing as a defensive end in high school will force Rector to transition as a linebacker in USC’s scheme, playing on the line does have its upside.

“I think it’ll be a really big advantage for him because he’s real good with his hands,” said Sanders. “It won’t be something new to him. He’ll be accustomed to it and that’s where I think he excels. Christian knows how to use his hands to help get himself into a better position.”

Having played against other D-I caliber players will also help him adjust. Just a year ago, Rector faced USC freshman offensive tackle Chris Brown in practice every day.

“In one-on-ones, I think they had their fair share of wins,” said Sanders. “Chris was a little more experienced, a little stronger at that time. I would love to see that matchup now, but I would say CB got the better of Christian at that point.

“We played a little bit with Chris at right tackle, but they were at opposite ends when they got some action on one-on-ones. But CB is tough man. And as a leader, he wasn’t going to let many people get by him, especially Christian at the time.”
 
Of course, this is all assuming Rector sticks to playing defense in college. To utilize his full potential, Rector will also see time playing tight end his senior year at Loyola.

“We’d love to get him involved as much as we can on both sides of the ball just because of so athletic he is,” said Sanders. “We do plan on utilizing him a little bit more on offense, yeah.”

Off the field, Sanders sees Rector fitting in well at USC because of his low key attitude and lack of ego.

“I think one thing, Christian is a very hard worker in the weight room,” said Sanders. “He’s a real strong kid. Doing well in class. As far as any off the field issues, you’re never going to have one.

“You’re going to have a guy that shows up every day to come to work. And the thing about him, is that he’ll go as hard as the guys around him will push him.

“So if he has some guys that will push him to a high level, Christian will be right there, but he’s kind of a low key, laid back kid. He’s not the rah-rah, get after it, but he’s tough and he’s not a kid that basically will take a back seat to anybody.”

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