29 min Read

USC defense meets the Cotton Bowl media

QUESTIONS FOR DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR CLANCY
PENDERGAST
Q. Obviously the big thing is: How do you stop a quarterback like they have, a guy that can do — I mean, he can do anything. He can run. What he’s going to go do?
COACH PENDERGAST: He’s obviously very talented. Look at how many starts he’s had in his career. He’s got a lot of experience. He’s thrown for 35 touchdowns, run for ten touchdowns. So very much a dual-threat quarterback. We just have to play with really good discipline and eyes. And a lot of times when you play a running quarterback, it’s 11 on 11. So you have to have somebody accounted for him at all times.

Q. I notice you didn’t play in college but coached your fraternity team. I don’t know if that’s accurate, but that seems like you wanted to be a coach from the very start.
COACH PENDERGAST: I wasn’t talented enough to play at the Division I level so I missed playing. I started coaching high school while I was going to college.

Q. Their offensive line has had some injuries. Have you been able to tell?
COACH PENDERGAST: They work well together. They’re very cohesive. They’ve got a lot of experience. And I think they do a really nice job, and they have multiple schemes in their running game.

Q. Does this offense remind you of any offense that you’ve prepared for this season?
COACH PENDERGAST: Last year they actually reminded me of Penn State a lot that we played in the Rose Bowl and probably a lot like Texas that we played earlier in the year. Very similar in their concepts and the running game and passing game. I would say those two teams since I’ve been coordinator here jump out at me as being similar. And then Arizona State I would say would be another team within the Pac-12 that is similar to what they do.

Q. How does that help you?
COACH PENDERGAST: I just think when you play teams that play with 11-on-11 offense, the more those kind of teams that you play, the more your guys are going to be familiar with how to defend them. So playing with very good eye control is going to be important.

Q. I’m assuming the last time you were here was not the most positive experience, the opener from last season. But, obviously, when you took over, there was things that you wanted to accomplish from then to now. What do you see in this team defensively that has been adjusted and gotten better?
COACH PENDERGAST: I think the first-year guys just getting acclimated with the scheme. They were more of a single two-gap-type defense up front and 3-4 concept. And I wanted to get more to a single-gap responsibility and being more disruptive. And I think we glued as a group last year, made strides in a lot of areas. And then we lost some guys, and so we had to plug guys in different spaces. This year I feel like the crew that we had coming back with the type offense we had, we needed to improve in three areas, most importantly to get our offense the ball back. We felt they could be explosive. We needed to do a better job of pressuring the quarterback, and we led the conference in sacks, and I think we’re top ten in the country.

Q. Is there any motivation playing in the first game and coming back to the [AT&T] Stadium?
COACH PENDERGAST: I’m sure there is. There’s some familiarity there obviously because we have played a game there. So the guys that do have experience have a feel for coming back to it. We practiced there yesterday for the first time. So that’s going to help us, that we get to work there for three days before the game.

Q. What’s it look like with [Tee] Martin? And do you see him becoming a head coach down the road?
COACH PENDERGAST: Tee is a talented coach. He and I work one-on-one a lot together because he’s the coordinator in terms of scheduling practice and I’ve known Tee a long time. We coached in 2013 when he was the receiver coach so there’s familiarity. I think he’s a very good communicator. I think he knows how to get players to respond. And more than anything, which I think is important in a coordinator role, is he knows how to put his player in the position to make plays.

Q. How have you seen him grow from that 2013 year to now being coordinator?
COACH PENDERGAST: I just see him being more involved with the whole offense. And I’ve seen him take the skill set that he had as a coach when he just coached the receivers and use that with the tight ends, the running backs, running game, quarterback. And I’ve seen him evolve that way as a coordinator.

Q. You mentioned Penn State. You look back at that game, you shut them out the first and fourth quarters. And they got 49 points in the second and third. Have you ever had a game that was that crazy?
COACH PENDERGAST: No. It was a lot of ups and downs in that game. I think the biggest turning point in that game were the two touchdowns. In the third quarter where on the very first play of the second half, we missed six tackles. We had guys on the block that should have made the play. The back made a great run, cut back against the grain and obviously scored. And then I believe the very next series, they threw a ball up and Iman Marshall tips it and catches it and runs it for a touchdown. So it was a quick strike, scores. And there was a turnover. So there was a lot of ups and downs in that game. And I think as a spectator, I remember that there always seems like a lot of points scored in bowl games. And I think a lot of that is because defensively teams take a three-, four-, five-week break from not seeing the speed of the game weekly, not like practice. And my personal opinion, you can go out there and run your plays at a certain speed and run your plays, run your pass plays, but when you have to defend against that speed, it’s never quite the same in practice. So sometimes in a bowl game, I think it takes time for the defense to kind of get caught up because you haven’t played for so long. This year, we played in the Pac-12 championship game, which there wasn’t quite as long of a lull between the last game and the bowl game as there was for us last year. So I hope that’s going to pay dividends for us.

Q. Talk about your NFL days. 2002 was your last year against the (Dallas) Cowboys?
COACH PENDERGAST: Yes.

Q. How much do you see things have changed, not only the stadium but —
COACH PENDERGAST: It’s weird driving down 114 and seeing the old (Texas) Stadium gone. But it’s changed a lot. I have a lot of fond memories. I still have a lot of friends here. Mr. Jones gave me my first opportunity to be a full-time position coach. So I thank him for that and the opportunities that I had through my whole time here. But it’s a very special place. In coaching you’re able to spend seven years somewhere and with three head coaches, you’re very thankful.

QUESTIONS FOR S CHRIS HAWKINS

Q. Is [J.T.] Barrett pretty good at finding the hole when running against a talented defensive line?
S CHRIS HAWKINS: He’s very patient. When they call his number, I’ve seen defenses try to stop that and he’ll audible to another player. He’s been here a long time. He knows exactly what he’s doing. I applaud him. He’s one of the best, I mean, that I’ve seen. A lot of people like to give him a lot of slag and everything like that. But as a signal caller and being a leader of their team, he’s one of the best I’ve seen.

Q. Is there any comparison about you guys playing Penn State in the bowl game last year now playing these guys this year? It was a shoot-out last year. Is there anything in a style of play of a Big Ten team, or does it not matter what conference it is?
S CHRIS HAWKINS: Offensive-wise, they’re the same style of offense.

Q. With a quarterback who can run and stuff?
S CHRIS HAWKINS: But I think J.T. [Barrett] is — Trace McSorley is very good. But I think J.T. is maybe a little better because he’s more experienced. They have [Saquon] Barkley, but, I mean, J.K. Dobbins isn’t far behind. He was replacing Mike Weber for injury and he just took off with it. And Mike Weber hasn’t been able to regain it. But I would just say Ohio State is faster than Penn State at receiver, much faster. Every single guy they put in there is either fast or tall, and there’s only one tall one. So they’re very fast, just the fastest group of receivers that I’ve seen in my career.

Q. How about that 21, Parris Campbell? They give him the ball and he goes. What do you do?
S CHRIS HAWKINS: Tackle him, yeah, get him on the ground. He’s elusive. He’s very fast. All around, their receivers are — this is an electric group of receivers. They have seven guys who have over 20 catches. And the one dude that doesn’t, has 18 catches but eight of them are touchdowns; Johnnie Dixon. So this is an electric group of receivers. It’s going to be a big test for us in the secondary in the back seven. We will do exactly what we have to do to hold these guys down. But speed-wise, it’s fastest group. Number 83 —

Q. Terry McLaurin, yeah.
S CHRIS HAWKINS: My God. I looked it up. One of their receivers ran a 10.3 in high school.

Q. Parris did that, Number 21.
S CHRIS HAWKINS: I think he ran 10.7, though.

Q. You did your work.
S CHRIS HAWKINS: This is a big game. I’ve got to.

Q. I’m impressed. I get paid to cover the game, man. You’re digging in that deep. You’re getting the nitty-gritty.
S CHRIS HAWKINS: I’m a film guy. That’s what I do. I don’t run 10.0, so I’ve got to make sure that I’m ready. I know how to break down exactly who I’m against, what routes they run, when they run the routes, and if the quarterback is looking at him, if he’s on the ball, off the ball. I have to break it down. You’ll see me on game day pointing and talking and doing all that. I like to call out plays.

Q. That’s where you get your edge?
S CHRIS HAWKINS: Absolutely.

Q. They may be faster but you know where they’re going.
S CHRIS HAWKINS: I’ve got to be the smartest player on the field. We have some of the smartest guys I’ve been in the room with.

Q. How much does a dual- threat quarterback play in — You can watch all the video you want, but if he gets out of the pocket and makes stuff happen, how hard does that make it for you guys?
S CHRIS HAWKINS: Very hard. Unless you play one-on-one across the board, you can’t account for him. Nobody plays one-on-one across the board. That’s kind of a pedestrian defense, if you think about it. You have him, I have him, I have him. This is college offense. This isn’t Pop Warner. Nobody does that. But, I mean, once he breaks the pocket, you know, then you start to get worried a little bit. But I think we have some of the best edge-containing guys in college. Uchenna Nwosu is one of the best players in college, period. You know, he’s been our best player, period, offense and defense. He’s been our best player. Without him, I don’t know where we’d be. And he doesn’t lose containment very often, might have two times this whole year. So going to that side, trying to escape that side, probably won’t be J.T.’s [Barrett] best advantage. But we have some of the best containing guys in the conference.

QUESTIONS FOR ILB CAMERON SMITH

Q. You have to stay disciplined?
ILB CAMERON SMITH: Yeah, I think it’s really important for us to play with great eyes on this game and be disciplined and play as a defense, not as an individual. It’s all about what happened to our defense and being the best we can be. And over the last ten games or so, we’ve become more sound and playing as a unit and less going out and trying to make plays. So I think it’s been beneficial for our defense and team to go out there and focus on assignments.

Q. Is J.T. Barrett the toughest guy you’ve played against? And by that I mean, Sam [Darnold], your quarterback, is great. But he’s a pocket passer. And if you stop the pass, then you’re okay. You can shut him down and all of a sudden he runs for 200 yards.
ILB CAMERON SMITH: Are we talking about if someone stops the pass against our offense and they’re good?

Q. No. I’m saying you, as defense, if you see a pocket passer, your goal is to stop him from passing. And if you do that, you’re probably going to have a good day. This guy, if you shut down the passing game, then he can run for 200 yards.
ILB CAMERON SMITH: I wouldn’t say Sam Darnold is a pocket passer. I don’t think our biggest key is to stop the pass. I want to see us stop the run and J.T. Barrett because I think J.K. Dobbins is the key to their offense right now. Their offensive line works so well together. They’re going to come out and jump out and run the ball against us. And our most important thing is to stop the run. If J.T. Barrett stops us with his arm, he’s a great player and has the ability to run. But his ability to mix up in the run game is very important because he — it’s — again he’s not going to take off for 60. I’ve seen him run but he’s going to take ten yards, 12 yards, ten yards, eight yards. And so that’s a huge part of their offense. But, yeah, it’s important for us to be assignment sound. But we see dual threats all the time. But he’s a great player. Not taking any credit from him, but right now we have to worry about us.

Q. You mentioned a minute ago how this defense has come together. But obviously the first game was a game you want to forget, the opener in 2016. Talk about how far the group has come. And do you remember what your feelings were after the game?
ILB CAMERON SMITH: Yeah. Well, I think a lot of us understand that this team is so much different than — I mean, Sam Darnold didn’t play in that game. I’m not going to say if he’d played, we would have won. We have such a — we’re so much different with our confidence and culture and the guys playing together. It’s such a different atmosphere on this team. So by no means am I saying that we have revenge on the [AT&T] Stadium; but we all remember the feeling and know exactly how it felt, probably the worst loss a lot of us have taken. So it means something to us to be back here. It’s significant to how far we’ve come because it’s — we’re in the Cotton Bowl. Everyone knows how much that means to college football. And I think being back here at AT&T is going to be awesome for us. Like I said, it’s so significant I think it’s going to mean a lot to each player.

Q. How did you feel going into practice yesterday?
ILB CAMERON SMITH: We watched the Cowboys game, and that was cool to see it from a different perspective. That was important for some of the young guys to see what it’s like, the lights and the big screen. But even yesterday walking out, looking up at it all was, like, it’s just as I remember. It’s an intimidating stadium, but I think we almost let that happen — you know, we let that get to us too much, that we’re playing in AT&T Stadium the first time. So practicing in here, we’ll have a couple days in there again. But I think that’s really important for some of the young guys that haven’t been here. It’s just a stadium. We’re just going out there to play against the offense. It’s no different. There’s going to be more energy and it’s a new face, but our preparation is key and we’ve got a couple more days left and that’s the most important thing.

Q. Does it hold the noise? The Coliseum is open air.
ILB CAMERON SMITH: It was loud. Last time I remember we traveled to that game. Alabama traveled well to that game, and it was half and half. Everyone was trying to outmatch everyone. And Ohio State fans are going to be the same, and I hope SC fans will get out there.
It’s going to be a loud game.

Q. You had a pretty good individual game. You had eight or nine tackles.
ILB CAMERON SMITH: Yeah, so much that I took one of our strength coaches’ advice. He said the first game we relied on hype. We came out with hype. And when the hype was gone in the second half, they relied on their practice and their level of play and our hype was gone. And so then you look at some of the games that happened last year towards the end, you know, the Rose Bowl, we came out with hype and then things happened and we finished off. We didn’t lose our level of play. And I think that’s where we’ve grown so much, is that we talk about hype is hype. Every team has hype when they come out. But it’s going to be determined on our level of preparation and how much we rely on practices and how hard we play. So it all that matters in the end.

Q. You grew up USC, Rose Bowl. What do you know about the Cotton Bowl? Be honest.
ILB CAMERON SMITH: Little, to be honest. It’s not something that I would like to admit. But, I mean, it’s something that, again, I know a lot about the Rose Bowl and traditions there. And I know there’s tradition here with Cotton Bowl, and we’ve only played it one time.

Q. Is it kind of cool to take the Pac-12/Big Ten tradition out?
ILB CAMERON SMITH: I think even during the bowl selection when it was announced that USC was playing Ohio State, it was almost a little more excitement than the playoff because it’s what other teams do you want to see play each other. I hope they come out in their traditional uniforms. What a great look for that on the same field. It’s going to be a blast. I’m looking forward to it. And I’ve had such a blast here. It’s great. It’s been awesome.

QUESTIONS FOR OLB UCHENNA NWOSU

Q. Do you guys practice with loud speakers?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: Yeah, speakers with loud noise behind defense and offense while the play is happening.

Q. What kind of music do they play?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: It’s not music. It’s just crowd noise, mainly crowd noise.

Q. Coach [Tee] Martin recruited you to USC, right? What about him helped sell USC?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: Just the type of dude he is. He’s a very heartfelt dude, genuine dude, tell you straight how it is. He’s real with you. That’s what I liked.

Q. He recruited just about all the California guys. How close are you guys with him and how well-known is he maybe in the community?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: Very well-known, always at all the local high schools, local games. He’s everywhere in L.A. You see Coach Tee [Martin]. He’s just tight woven with the community.

Q. Even though you’re not on his side of the ball, I take it you think he would make a good head coach one day?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: Definitely. He has the stats. He has the mindset. He’s done a great job at USC for the past three years, so I think he has all the qualities of a head coach.

Q. How critical is assignment offense this week, and is that something they’ve been preaching to you all?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: Definitely. Do your job and we’ll be all right.

Q. Have you watched the Pac-12 title game and specifically the play you made off the edge?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: That play replays in my head 24/7. I’ll never forget that play.

Q. Has that been your favorite play in your USC career?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: Definitely, hands down.

Q. What about it? Is it coming off the edge and making the play? Is it the meaning because that kind of wins the game?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: The meaning and, most importantly, how my brothers fought, just how I saw my brothers just didn’t give up, didn’t show no fear. They did it for the Trojans, for themselves, and their families on all four downs, not just me. I’m very thankful for that, and I’m very happy I have those guys playing with me.

Q. Why do you think you were able to come off the edge like that? Normally, the defense makes a push and he doesn’t get there. But you come and make a play in the backfield.
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: Just in case, I told my teammate earlier, John Houston, to cover me because I’m gone. Usually we have to defend some type of pass on that. So I told him, “Just cover me, I’m going, I’m going.” And he just covered me and trusted me and I trusted him, and I was able to make the play.

Q. Was there a chance it was going to be a pass?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: There was a chance. I’ve seen the same set before earlier in the season when we played them the first time. We were wary of that.

Q. How likely did you think the pass was going to be? 50/50 or less than that?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: Just knowing who Stanford is and a run-dominant offense, how they want to establish the run in past championship games, they want to prove they’re tougher than us. I kind of knew it was a run. And they ran that same formation and scored on it earlier in the game, so I knew they were going to come back to it.

Q. Do you think you guys are here if you hadn’t made that play?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: I still think we had a chance. Our offense is really good. Our offense scored, I believe, the next drive or something like that, next two drives. The offense is capable of putting up points. I would have trusted my defense and Coach Clancy’s [Pendergast] game plan to be able to stop them, yeah.

Q. How much more does it help to play loose knowing you’ve got Sam [Darnold] on the other side to pick you up?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: Tremendously. Sam is a great player. He did it last year in the Rose Bowl. He’s done it all year and all last year and became a starter and took over. Sam is a great player. We believe in him. He has our full support.

Q. You faced good rushing attacks last year with Penn State in the bowl game. How much is it going to be drawing off those experiences this week?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: It’s going to help in our favor being able to play — anything can change. We have to stay composed at all times, and that helps to our advantage:

Q. You guys have been at practice this week in AT&T [Stadium]. Does that help getting familiar with the surroundings of that stadium because it’s so big?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: I think it’s more for the younger freshman than us. A lot of us played last year against Alabama. This is mainly for the freshmen to get them used to the lights and stadium.

Q. Do you remember following the video board at all? Cam [Smith] was saying when the offense was on the field, you’re looking up at the video board because it’s so giant?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: That video board is amazing. You don’t notice it until you’re in the stadium on the field and just looking at everything. It’s amazing.

Q. Is it distracting?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: It is very distracting. I’m not going to lie.

Q. Is it almost bad to look at the video board? Maybe doesn’t matter when you’re on the sideline?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: I mean, as long as you’re focused into the game, I feel like it’s all right.

Q. You mention it’s a big deal for the freshmen getting to come play in this game. Do you feel it’s important for veterans to play here before? You’ve been through the walk-through. It’s like a business-like approach.
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: Definitely. Being able to have the focus and mindset, the freshmen being able to focus as well. I’m more seeing that the older guys have been here and they want to pay attention and focus in.

Q. Have you thought about, like, what this win would mean for the program? If you could actually beat Ohio State, what that would mean for the program?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: It would mean a lot for the program. I believe USC is undefeated against Ohio State the last seven matchups. A huge win like this would be huge for the program, huge for our fans and huge for our families and most importantly huge for ourselves.

Q. Did you feel like you need the win to back up your Pac-12 title?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: We don’t need the win, but it’s important to go out there and give it your best and play whoever is next on your schedule and play your best and play an offense for the next 60 minutes.

Q. What do you think the strength of the defense was down the stretch?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: Just our drive, just drive to finish the game. Knowing what was at stake, knowing how Stanford is, and knowing we lost the championship two years prior, just being able to just emotionally be prepared for what’s going on. Just not let that happen again, I guess you could say.

Q. Give me a couple keys for what you think you have to do to pick up a win on Friday.
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: Like you said before, stay assignment sound, dual threat quarterback, great offensive line. Very experienced, All-Americans all over the field. So assignment sound, doing your job is going to be a key part of this game.

Q. How different is it to have you guys in the 12 games, 12 weeks rushing from one game to the next, now you got 3 1/2 weeks or whatever?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: The break is good. Bodies are getting healthy, everybody is getting legs back. Preparation. Diagnose, read, and react and all the preparation really helps.

Q. How well do you think you know Ohio State?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: There’s always things to improve on. But, for the most part, Ohio State — we have their main go-tos in the bag. I feel we’re ready to compete.

Q. What does it mean for you last game to be connected to the Trojan family?
OLB UCHENNA NWOSU: I feel like I’ll always be connected to the Trojan family. To be physically playing in the uniform for my last time is very sad. Being it’s my last time here with my teammates who I’ve grown up with over four years, who have got me through all the whatifs and could-haves, just all those come together for the last time. I’m making the most of my opportunities now, trying to enjoy over every moment and live in the present with my teammates.

QUESTIONS FOR ILB JOHN HOUSTON

Q. How difficult is it to think about USC in the Cotton Bowl instead of the Rose Bowl?
ILB JOHN HOUSTON: Different experience. USC has been here before.

Q. Were you here for the game last year?
ILB JOHN HOUSTON: Yes.

Q. What do you remember about that? And how different is this team? That was the first game back with you guys with Coach Pendergast. How different is this team?
ILB JOHN HOUSTON: I feel we’re a more confident team, confident defense as well. We have great leaders on the field, Chris Hawkins, great leaders. So we go out there and dominate and play our best.

Q. I know you’re not playing the same team, but is there a motivation to do better in the stadium and get revenge on the stadium?
ILB JOHN HOUSTON: Yeah, go out there and represent. We had a loss, but we’re going to come back here and try to rebound.

Q. How big a game is this? Everybody talks about the playoff picture. I know you and Ohio State would much rather be in a playoff game. But, if not, to be in a matchup like this, how big a game is this?
ILB JOHN HOUSTON: This is still a big game. Great team, Ohio State. And we have to play four quarters of offense, defense, and special teams. We can’t take this lightly. This is a big game. We have to go out and dominate.

Q. What do you tell guys that might play in this game that didn’t take part in that one? If you have a young guy that wasn’t part of that game, what would you tell them about getting ready?
ILB JOHN HOUSTON: Focus on the game. Don’t worry about surroundings and focus. Just play.

Q. Coach [Tee] Martin recruited you to USC, right? What was that like and what about him kind of helped sell you to USC?
ILB JOHN HOUSTON: Coach Tee was a great person, great coach. So he came in, just showed me the true meaning of being a Trojan and the Trojan family and came in and recruited me. And I felt like I was more comfortable and fit to go to USC.

Q. I know you don’t play on his side of the ball right now, but do you think he should become a head coach soon? Or do you think he’d be a good head coach?
ILB JOHN HOUSTON: He’d be a great head coach, if he gets the opportunity, but only time will tell.

Q. How popular is he on the team? He’s one of the top-ranked recruiters. How is he with everybody?
ILB JOHN HOUSTON: I feel like he’s got a great bond with everybody since he recruited most everybody in California. He’s just a real, real good guy. I really appreciate him as a coach. He doesn’t even coach me, but I appreciate him being there for me.

QUESTIONS FOR DE CHRISTIAN RECTOR

Q. You see 12 games in 12 weeks. You were rushed in from one game to the next. Now you’ve got 3 1/2 weeks or whatever. How different is that preparation-wise to get ready for a team?
DE CHRISTIAN RECTOR: Yeah, it’s an extra week. But having a bowl game, once you come out here, people kind of sometimes get distracted with all the activities that you do. So a lot of our preparation came when we were back at home because last year in the Rose Bowl, we were in our facilities. We’d go in our own lab and do film studying and prepare for the opponent. And now we come out here. And so it’s a little different being in a hotel and studying film in the hotel. So a lot of that came before we came out here.

Q. Do you feel more prepared, more than normal?
DE CHRISTIAN RECTOR: Yeah, I think we’re pretty prepared, especially because Ohio State runs an offensive scheme that we’ve seen before in other teams like A&M and Texas.

Q. Coach [Tee] Martin recruited you to USC, right?
DE CHRISTIAN RECTOR: Yeah.

Q. What about him helped sell the school to you?
DE CHRISTIAN RECTOR: Back in my tight end days, I loved USC’s offense. But I always knew they had a great history of defense. And that’s kind of where my passion and mindset was defensively. I think he was still Recruiter of the Year the year I came out but it was just more the whole idea of USC and tradition that came with it.

Q. He’s pretty well-known among all the guys from California. Even if you’re not on theoffensive side of the ball, how much does he get along with everybody from California, high schools and the community?
DE CHRISTIAN RECTOR: Very outgoing, personable guy. He was able to bring a lot of kids in. But Tee Martin coached with my head coach, Marvin Sanders. He knew Tee when he coached at SC, so that helped as well.

Q. Do you imagine he’d make a good head coach one day?
DE CHRISTIAN RECTOR: Yeah, I’d say that.

Q. J.K. Dobbins has gotten overshadowed by J.T. [Barrett] being his senior year and so on. What stands out about his game to you?
DE CHRISTIAN RECTOR: I think his speed is deceptive, and he’s got ball hands on the field. I mean, Dobbins is elusive, but I think J.T. really runs the offense and makes them go.