Braxton Berrios to KJ Osborn to Mike Harley Jr. to... Xavier Restrepo?
The recent lineage of strong, hard-working slot receivers at the U has been well-documented. And to be mentioned in the same category as these young legends that have set the precedent at the position requires years of hard work that ultimately results in reliable production at Miami. However, all signs point to Restrepo being more than capable of carrying the torch for the Canes as a slot guy and return specialist.
The X-man perfectly fits the profile of the aforementioned names as he came into the U last year as an underrated prospect (No. 621 recruit overall nationally, compared to Berrios at 370th overall, Osborn 2403rd overall but after transfer, and Harley 307th overall).
"If you cut him open, orange and green comes out," Manny Diaz says about Xavier Restrepo.— Josh White (@_JoshRWhite) December 18, 2019
Diaz compares Restrepo to former Hurricane standout Braxton Berrios.
As he enters his second year, everyone from the coaches to fellow players have praised Restrepo’s work ethic, including QB, D’Eriq King, who noted Restrepo is a player that has impressed this offseason. His skillset also resembles the other guys as he is a natural and gritty, somewhat undersized, slot receiver standing at 5’10” (the names above stand between 5’9” and 6’0”). Further, he exhibits special teams experience. Last but not least, the local Deerfield Beach product has always been passionate about the U, and has a clear loyalty to the program, which goes hand-in-hand with the past receivers’ team-first leadership quality.
“I was on the phone with pretty much all of the coaches and we just talked things over and I don’t know it’s just always something that I have wanted,” he said of his decision last year. “I feel like it’s the best fit for me.”
Needless to say, there are numerous reasons to believe Restrepo is the next team-first tough-to-cover slot man for Miami who will carve out his own name.
X to the U
In high school, Restrepo was not only willing to take a hit over the middle, but was also the one laying the hit stick as a physical safety at Deerfield Beach. He amassed an impressive 48 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 200+ tackles, 500+ passing yards, 3,000+ receiving yards, 2,500+ rushing yards, and contributed as a special teams player (five blocked field goals along with the return game prowess).
Prior to college, the X-Man stood at 5’10”, 178lbs, but possessed strong athletic traits by clocking a 4.58 40-yard dash and 32.5 inch vertical. He also turned a lot of heads due to his short area quickness and unmatched route running, especially in the short-to-intermediate passing attack. Restrepo especially thrived in 7-on-7 tournaments where he often separated from defenders, cut on a dime, and made acrobatic catches. He was named the wide receiver MVP at The Opening Miami.
Major development in the high school football offseason as standout slot receiver Xavier Restrepo @XavierRestrepo1 announces he’s transferring from St. Thomas Aquinas to Deerfield Beach.— David Furones (@DavidFurones_) April 7, 2019
Looks like he intends on enrolling early in college. pic.twitter.com/h61MQFL0Tk
Upon committing to Miami, Restrepo held 23 reported offers from the likes of Kentucky, Purdue, Georgia, Michigan, Oregon, Missouri, Harvard, Vanderbilt, and Texas, among others. However, he could not stay away from the south Florida area.
“Miami is paradise,” he said. “It truly is paradise. It feels like home and I wouldn’t want to be going anywhere else ... I’m trying to make The U great again.”
Not only is Restrepo trying to make the U great again by playing there himself, but he was a leader among the incoming freshman class in 2020. He also was a key contributor in getting fellow Deerfield Beach teammate RB, Jaylan Knighton, to sign with the Canes. He has continued to exhibit leadership traits as he enters his second year.
Restrepo’s 2020 and Offseason
OC, Rhett Lashlee, has noted that the rising sophomore receivers, Restrepo, Keyshawn Smith, Dazalin Worsham, and Michael Redding have been “gym rats” all offseason and absolutely love learning. In all likelihood, Restrepo is likely the guy leading the charge as the receivers try to take the leap in year two.
In fact, last year, veteran defender Amari Carter, praised his off-the-field efforts and even added in the Berrios comparator: “He’s one of those guys that’s always in here working,” Carter said. “Nine o’clock on sometimes, me and Zach (McCloud) come in here, they’re here, working out... just how he plays, catching the ball, looking the ball in, those extra yards after catching the ball, I see the resemblance (to Berrios).”
By no means has Restrepo lit up the stat sheet to date, but he was constantly commended by the coaches, balled out in scrimmages, and even took over starting punt returner duties just a month into the season - a position that Miami learned the hard way is very important after the 2019 season opener against Florida. Minus that miscue, Miami has recently had very reliable “punt catchers”, as Manny Diaz calls them. Specifically Osborn and Berrios, who are already reliably occupying the area at the NFL level.
Enter the X-Man: Miami Freshman, Xavier Restrepo, Takes the Reins as Starting Punt Returner and Draws Similarities to a Recent Canes’ Legend. #TheU #Canes https://t.co/1MbXry1dUg pic.twitter.com/EE5Gv6iLsM— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) October 21, 2020
In his first game against Pitt, Restrepo drew a 15-yard kick punt interference penalty, and held onto the football. In his second game in a rainy night in Death Valley against the nation’s number one team, Clemson, Restrepo had to deal with two tough punts inside the 10-yard line. Restrepo exhibits a willingness - and loves - to do the dirty work on special teams.
On the offensive side of the ball, X-Man tallied a combined seven receptions for 133 yards, a receiving touchdown, and a 70-yard touchdown run during Miami’s spring scrimmages. However, he only had one reception for 12 yards during the regular season.
Expectations for 2021
Restrepo’s gym rat tendencies appear to be paying off this offseason as he not only enters the season listed at 195lbs (up from 178lbs in high school), but also set the wide receiver position squat record at 505lbs - yet another beneficiary of the Coach David Feeley Strength and Conditioning program.
Not only is Restrepo setting the tone in the weight room, but he is yet again thriving in spring practices. In the two scrimmages to date this year, he has 14 catches for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was also all over the field working out of the slot in Miami’s Spring Game this past March where he put together four catches for 44 yards and he showed a sound rapport with both Tyler Van Dyke and Jake Garcia. He hauled in a 14-yard fade in the endzone from TVD, and also had a nice catch over the middle on a 4th and long from Garcia. Restrepo also had a carry on a trick play out of the backfield. In the most recent Sunday night scrimmage highlight tape, Restrepo looked silky weaving in and out of traffic
The natural slot receiver currently sits behind veteran, Harley, on the depth chart. Even though Restrepo may not earn the starting role, he should see plenty of action as a sparkplug Swiss army knife slot guy under Lashlee’s spread formation scheme that literally attempts to spread the ball out to various options in an uptempo manner. Restrepo should naturally be incorporated as the team operates crossing patterns and slant-heavy formations over the middle of the field as he is not afraid to work through traffic. Restrepo is willing to contribute on the special teams coverage or return units and has the skill set to occupy multiple roles there.
Beyond 2021, I see a do-everything player with a make-it attitude. The first player that comes to mind is actually former New England Patriot, Troy Brown, who played wide receiver, cornerback, and return specialist at the professional level - a testament to the 5’10” Marshall grad’s team-first willingness. As a utility man, Restrepo has the background in all three facets of the game at the high school level and would indubitably be willing to play anywhere for the Canes if need be.
In fact, when Miami earned the commitment from X-man, it wasn’t even clear what position he would play. And even though it seems he has found a niche at the receiver position, where he could thrive in Rhett Lashlee’s slot receiver-friendly spread scheme (Lashlee has previously bred NFL talent at Auburn with Quan Bray and at SMU with James Proche, with Harley hopefully next in line), Restrepo has made it known he will on whatever role necessary to help the Canes.
“Athlete,” Restrepo previously said when asked about his future position. “Just wherever they need me.”
“I played safety, nickel, and linebacker, but at receiver with the excitement of the crowd that that gets on you, how much you’re depending on to win the game, all of the pressure I just love it,” Restrepo said. “I love the heat of the moment. Either you catch the ball or you lose the game, I just love all of that pressure.”
Restrepo echoes the same dialogue of Miami players who worked the extra hours at the JUGS machines, the weight room, and led by example the right way. Of note, Berrios, Osborn, and Harley did not start to see the rewards immediately at the college level but were patient and put in the work behind the scenes. Whether X-Man breaks out this year or continues to develop, it is just a matter of time until the sweat equity culminates into the next great Canes’ slot receiver, whose name could be in a league of his own as he already sets records in the weight room.
“I’m just a student of the game,” Restrepo said. “I just love football so much and I take pride in everything I do.”