TAMPA – When you have two brothers that are 18 months apart like Tampa Catholic’s Steven and Cole Rix, you’d imagine some disagreements would arise. But Steven, a rising senior left tackle and Cole, a rising junior left guard are as close as two siblings can be on and off the field.
Steven (No. 71) is entering his third full season as the starting varsity left tackle after playing defensive end as a freshman. The 6’4″, 275-pounder is up 25 lbs. from the end of last season and is aiming to get thicker and stronger before August.
His younger brother Cole, a 6’2″, 260-pounder made the move into the starting lineup this spring at left guard. Last year, he appeared on varsity as a nose guard and backup at left tackle to his brother. Cole (No. 67) has gained 25 lbs. as well this off-season and is looking to improve his upper body strength.
Steven admitted that he thought it was going to be “really annoying” having his brother next to him on the offensive line, but that changed quickly once Cole proved that he belonged.
“I thought I was going to have to save him all the time,” Steven told Prep Sports Scouting. “He’s improved a lot since we’ve started. It’s a lot easier to play with him now.”
Cole says playing next to his older brother is a great learning experience. He was terrified of the move at first, but everyone on the team has gotten behind him and he’s really meshing with the group up front.
“It’s fun having him [Steven] next to me because if I have questions, I can always ask him and I know he’ll always be there for me,” Cole said.
At times last season when Steven needed a breather, Cole came in at left tackle. He says it was fun being his backup and thought it was funny hearing the coaches say ‘take Rix out and put Rix back in.’
Steven who was thrust into a starting role as a sophomore admitted that season was a learning experience as he took the field on offense for the first time. However, that’s where he gained his confidence since the coaches saw something in him which he fed off of.
No offers have come Steven’s way as he prepares for his senior season, but West Virginia, Kentucky and Louisville have all shown interest. He took part in camps at Central Florida, Florida Atlantic and Miami here as of late, stating that he really liked his experience with the Hurricanes.
Steven realizes that playing as an offensive lineman isn’t a position that gets looked at often rather the skill players.
“I’ve always thought about that with getting recognized,” Steven said. “You just have to see them in person to realize how big lineman to see which ones are the better ones. The film and the coaches that come will help us.”
As for Cole, he says he gained his confidence last season when he made his first tackle on defense. He says that’s when he realized that all of his hardwork and dedication has paid off.
Following in his brother’s footsteps on the team, Cole says everyone had really high expectations for him but things settled down after the coaching staff helped calm him down.
“Coach Gregory just took me in and I remember he made all the freshman stand up in the first practice and I was the tallest one,” Cole said. “He’s just a nice person and is kind of like a dad to me.”
Steven calls fourth-year head coach Mike Gregory an awesome guy.
“He’s [Gregory] always been there for me if I have any problems or anything like that,” Steven said. “He’s a really great coach and I’m grateful to have him.”
Last season, the Crusaders finished 10-3 before falling in the 3A state semifinals to Trinity Christian. It marked the second time in the three years that TC lost in that round. Steven says that is fuel for his team going into this season.
“We got so close, next season we need to work even harder and push forward the final game. It helps having that experience and it helps you focus more in those games.”
Starting their football lives together playing flag, the Rix brothers then moved on to tackle at the start of middle school. Steven was almost a foot taller than all of his friends by the time third grade rolled around. Cole got taller around the start of middle school and is still growing.
Cole says his biggest assets are his positive attitude, size and lower body strength.
Being left handed, Steven says that helps him control the left side and guide defenders more into the inside. Another big strength for him is his ability to adapt to any mental mistakes he makes.
Steven and Cole talk during every play with lineman calls and Steven says that he doesn’t have to correct his brother as much now that he’s getting more comfortable inside.
Their parents come to every game and are really involved in their lives. Cole says that he doesn’t think his parents have ever missed one of their games.
Tampa Catholic’s biggest rival Jesuit has ties to the Rix family with their father playing high school football there. Steven chose TC over Jesuit because he liked the overall vibe better at the school and with the coaches. Cole admitted that it took his father a couple of weeks to adjust to Steven’s decision.
The TC-Jesuit rivalry is always somewhere even in the Rix’s family.
Steven and Cole don’t model their games after any particular players, saying that they listen to watch their coaches say and use that to help build their skill levels.
As for his ultimate goal, Cole wants to earn a scholarship from a D-I college and eventually be a chef. He currently works at Hank’s Catfish & BBQ on Dale Mabry and absolutely loves it.
Steven wants to make it to the NFL because he says it looks like so much fun. He plans to study information technology in college.
“Playing in a huge stadium is something I’d really strive for,” Steven said. “I’d like to stay in state if possible but if I can get Ole Miss, Miami or West Virginia I’d be happy.”
The Rix brothers are two big kids who have bright futures. Steven is calm and collective and knows what he needs to do to be the best at his position. Cole is an up and comer who is getting his feet wet at a new spot where he should succeed.
One thing is for sure, Tampa Catholic is lucky to have Steven and Cole up front. As they get stronger and craftier things will only get better for them with their football futures.
Favorite players to watch – Steven (JJ Watt, Ray Lewis); Cole (Gerald McCoy, Odell Beckham, Amari Cooper, Richard Sherman, JJ Watt)
Playlist before games – Steven (rock and electronic); Cole (classic rock)
Favorite movies – Steven (superhero movies); Cole (comedies)
Favorite TV shows – Steven (Street Outlaws); Cole (America’s Got Talent, American Idol, Street Outlaws)
Fun fact about you that no one knows – Steven: “That I play video games. I usually keep it from a lot of people because I don’t want people to think like ‘oh he’s a nerd or something like that.’ I only tell close friends or people I play with.”
Cole: “I have fish aquariums in my room. They are cool to watch.”
Nickname(s) from teammates or friends – Steven (Big Rix); Cole (Little Rix)
Steven (No. 71) delivers a great lead block on a long catch and run by ATH Bentlee Sanders in the spring game against River Ridge.
— Jake Perper (@JakePerper) May 20, 2016
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