One of the keys to a successful 2022 season for Tyler Van Dyke and the Canes’ offense is going to be having a reliable, sure-handed option to complete quick and frequent passes. This is especially true when Van Dyke’s tougher reads are covered, or on key third downs. From the trust scale, there may be no better person than his roommate, Xavier Restrepo, who just so happens to be the most experienced wideout and lead candidate for the slot role. So it is no coincidence that Van Dyke referred to Restrepo as his “security blanket.”
Miami has had a recent lineage of strong, hard-working slot receivers who play the role of safety blanket or security blanket, whatever you want to call it. There is a reason Braxton Berrios and KJ Osborn have carved out NFL roles after spending time at the U, and why Mike Harley Jr. is impressing early in Browns training camp.
Restrepo’s background resembles the Berrios, Osborn, Harley mold as he has been praised for his work ethic and is gritty, somewhat undersized slot receiver standing at 5’10” (the names above stand between 5’9” and 6’0”).
X to the U
The X-Man also came into the U, a school the Deerfield Beach product was passionate about, as an underrated prospect in 2020. Restrepo was ranked No. 621 recruit overall nationally by 247Sports Composite, compared to Berrios at 370th overall, Osborn 2403rd overall (but 226th after transfer), and Harley 307th overall. Restrepo transferred from St. Thomas Aquinas to Deerfield Beach (same school as running back Jaylan Knighton) prior to enrolling and was named the wide receiver MVP at The Opening Miami after exhibiting short area quickness, unmatched route running, separation from defenders, ability to cut on a dime, and acrobatic catches.
Upon his arrival at the U, Restrepo has been putting in the extra work. Last offseason, X was a gym rat and added on 17lbs of muscle (from 178lbs to 195lbs). He also set the wide receiver position squat record at 505lbs. Restrepo has thrived in practices throughout his career.
On the field last year, X had one of the only highlights in the Canes’ 44-13 blowout loss against Alabama when he hauled in an impressive 29-yard contested touchdown catch. Restrepo was mostly the relief slot receiver behind Harley Jr. last season but still put up 24 catches for 373 yards and two scores. He also took some repetitions as punt/kick returner.
Expectations for 2022
For the upcoming season, Restrepo will be relied upon for a heavier role as the anticipated starter out of the slot. As discussed above as the anticipated “security blanket” for TVD, Restrepo should naturally be incorporated as the team operates crossing patterns and slant-heavy formations over the middle of the field, especially because X is not afraid to work through traffic. Restrepo rarely lines up wide, but his TD against Bama defensive back, Brian Branch, suggest his prowess on deep balls and contested catches. Also, in nearing 200lbs, Restrepo sometimes resembles a running back as a ball carrier.
Tyler Van Dyke with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Restrepo pic.twitter.com/0sHC7rIWlq— Christopher Stock (@InsideTheU) April 17, 2021
Head Coach, Mario Cristobal, has indicated the receiver “continues to be a work in progress” and many say drops continue to plague the Canes - an issue that has been evident in recent seasons. Despite the negative reports emerging after the Canes’ first scrimmage this past weekend, Cristobal “unquestionably the most productive wide receiver in camp.” Cristobal added the Restrepo’s approach to practice and Restrepo’s motor on the field impressed scouts in attendance at the scrimmage.
Restrepo has an opportunity to step up similar to Harley Jr. in 2020, after wide receivers were disappointing much of the season, and Charleston Rambo last year, especially after quarterback D’Eriq King went down for the season. While Restrepo only scored twice last season, he could be a much needed anchor for this developing core and lead the way for Key’Shawn Smith, Frank Ladson, and the younger core of wideouts.
In lights of Harley and Rambo’s departure, Miami needs reliable playmakers and it is believed that the Van Dyke-Restrepo connection could pace a big season for both of them. The rapport could also anchor this team to take the next step.
While comparisons have been made throughout this article to recent great Canes’ slot receivers, 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 in 2020, it wasn’t even clear what position he would play and Restrepo has made it known he would take on whatever role necessary to help the Canes.
“Athlete,” Restrepo previously said when asked about his future position. “Just wherever they need me.”
OC Josh Gattis putting in work with the WRs to begin practice.— Frank Tucker (@TheCribSouthFLA) August 15, 2022
Key’Shawn Smith & Xavier Restrepo continue the trend of being the most consistent guys in the room even in drills. pic.twitter.com/udmoa8zXhJ
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.
The dividends appear to be paying off for Restrepo but it is just a matter of time until the sweat equity culminates into the next great Canes’ slot receiver. As the favorite target for his roommate, Van Dyke, who is being projected as a first round pick, Restrepo could see the work breakout in a big way on the gridiron this season.
65 Receptions (leads team)
850 Receiving Yards (13 Y/C)