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Leesburg QB Rector continues recovery from major knee surgery
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Leesburg QB Rector continues recovery from major knee surgery
LEESBURG
FOOTBALL
Leesburg QB Rector continues recovery from major knee surgery
Leesburg QB Rector continues recovery from major knee surgery
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Leesburg quarterback Wyatt Rector looks for an open receiver on Wednesday during the
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Leesburg QB Rector continues recovery from major knee
surgery

By Frank Jolley
Daily Commercial
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Updated: Friday, June 23, 2017, 10:19 a.m.

TAVARES — Wyatt Rector’s junior season ended with a misstep, but the Leesburg High School
quarterback is anxious to prove he’s back and better than ever.

Based on his performance at the recently completed Fellowship of Christian Athletes 7-on-7 passing
league, opposing defensive coaches may be forced to revamp their game plans to slow him down.

“Physically, I’m back,” said Rector after playing games on Wednesday against Apopka, Lake Minneola
and Tavares at the Hickory Point Recreational Park. “The rehabilitation process for me was amazing.
Just to see how the body responds. I’m physically stronger than I was before the injury. I’m squatting
more weight than before and I’m just as fast, if not a little quicker.

“I’m ready to play football right now.”

Rector sliced the Apopka Blue Darters, Lake Minneola Hawks and Tavares Bulldogs apart on
Wednesday. He looked off receivers and defenders like a seasoned professional and cajoled his
teammates to step up their play by reminding them that at least two of their opponents — Lake
Minneola and Tavares — are on the Yellow Jackets’ regular-season schedule.

In reality, seeing Rector on the field, even if it was just in a summer passing league, was a welcome
sight for the Yellow Jackets Nation. His junior season ended abruptly on the fifth play of Leesburg’s
third game of the season, a home game against South Lake.

The end came on a play he had run countless times. Rector gained 13 yards on a play that required
him to cut back to against an Eagles defender. When he planted his right leg and cut, Rector
remembered feeling something he had never felt before.

“My right knee was able to move side-to-side like a stick shift in a care when it’s in neutral,” Rector said.
“I know that your knees aren’t supposed to do that, so I suspected something serious had happened.
When I tested it after icing it for about five or six minutes, I could run forward, but I couldn’t move laterally
... my teammates had to help me back to the trainer’s table.

“I knew then it wasn’t good.”

Rector had torn the anterior cruciate ligament — ACL — in his right knee. The ACL is one of four main
ligaments in the knee and helps to stabilize the joint.

One of the primary duties of the ACL is to protect the knee from bending sideways, such as when a
football player is tackled from the side.

ACL injuries are considered relatively common among athletes and can be repaired surgically. For
many athletes, rehabilitation is long and tedious, and can take up a year.

Rector was back on the field in contact drills in less than nine months. While he still wears a black
brace for support and added protection, Rector has taken multiple direct hits on the knee, which helped
erase any mental reservations that might’ve lingered after the injury.

“For me, the hardest part of rehabilitation was the first couple of weeks after surgery,” said Rector. “My
mom took me off my pain medication and I felt everything. I actually thought about quitting a couple of
times, but then I would remember how my parents always taught me to never give up at anything. I got
through and got into the weight room and kept my upper body in shape until I could start working on my
lower body.”

He also developed drills to keep his game skills intact.

“We have high ceilings in our living room,” said Rector. “I would sit in a chair and throw the ball up into
the air to work on my release point. After I could get around on crutches, I’d go outside and sit in a chair
and throw the ball with my dad. Everything I did was about making sure I would be ready to play again
when the time came.”

And he hasn’t disappointed since officially returning to action in Leesburg’s spring practices.

Yellow Jackets coach Mark Oates, who is in his first season running the football program, said he has
been impressed with Rector’s drive to get back on the field and with his preparation. Everything Oates
has seen from Rector leads him to believe his quarterback will have no ill effects from the injury and the
recovery process.

“Physically, there is no doubt that Wyatt is good to go,” said Oates. “He hasn’t played in a regular-
season game, so he might need some time to readjust to the speed of the game. I’m not sure if that
will be the case, but since he’s been there before, it should be just a formality.”

From his teammates’ perspective, just having Rector — their leader — on the field is a sign of progress.

Without Rector in the lineup, the Yellow Jackets struggled to a 2-8 record in 2016 but ended the season
on a positive note, winning their final two games. Following a 29-23 season-ending win against Lake
Minneola, Leesburg — and backup quarterback A.J. Graham — headed into the offseason on a positive
note.

And despite his injury, Rector was on the sidelines through the disappointing losses and momentum-
building wins, doing whatever he could to help his teammates.

“It was definitely derailing to our season when Wyatt went down,” said senior Justin Shetrawski.
“Certainly it hurt to lose a player like him, but he was so supportive. Even though he was on crutches,
he would be at practices and games to offer advice and encouragement to us. He wanted all of us that
even though he was injured and couldn’t play, he was still there with us.”

All that’s left for Rector is to lead the Yellow Jackets onto the field in Bushnell on Aug. 25, when
Leesburg opens its season against South Sumter. By then, it will be nearly a year since he played in a
regular-season game.

However, when he does that, Rector’s recovery from a football player’s worst nightmare will be
complete.

“That’s when I’ll probably realize how long it’s been and how far I’ve come,” said Rector. “But, it’s a day I’
m really looking forward to. That’s when it will finally feel like I’m all the way back.

“It’s been a long process.”



This article was provided by Gerald Lacey
Gerald Lacey is the senior sports writer covering Leesburg High School Sports for the Carver Heights
Quarterback Club. You can reach him at:
geraldlacey@leesburgyellowjacketsfootball.com