For a freshman in the Miami Hurricanes’ football program, Xavier Restrepo is getting loads of snaps.
A team-first mentality developed from a young age has fulfilled the wide receiver’s dream.
“Whatever the coaches need me to do, I’m going to sacrifice my body,” Restrepo said. “I’ve always been that type of player to risk my body for the team. I just want to win. In order to play in South Florida, you just need to make plays and the coaches are giving me great opportunities and I’m just doing my job, going out there and doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
On one of college football’s grander stages, Restrepo scored his first career touchdown in Miami’s season-opener versus No. 1 Alabama. And after lighting such a spark, the Coconut Creek native has resembled one of the Hurricanes’ more efficient wide receivers, averaging 17.2 yards per catch.
But Restrepo is nowhere near being the first prominent slot receiver at the U. From pro slot receivers Braxton Berrios to KJ Osborn and to now senior Mike Harley, Jr., each one has had a significant offensive impact during their time wearing orange and green.
If history and his current status are any indicator, Restrepo may just have himself a career to cherish at Miami. Accustomed to playing on both sides of the ball, the versatile product of Deerfield Beach High School was heavily recruited out of high school and considered offers from many power five schools including Oregon, Michigan and Georgia.
Fortunately for the Hurricanes, he committed to Miami. UM coaches battled other heralded schools for Restrepo for multiple reasons: his extreme versatility on offense, his coach-ability and efficient development and his leadership and team-first mentality.
“Xavier Restrepo has proven himself to be starter quality,” said offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, who added that Restrepo has “earned his place as a starter,” given the exhibited respect and work ethic in offensive schemes that took UM football’s offense to new heights for most of the 2020 season.
Restrepo has yet to waste time exhibiting his work ethic on the gridiron of a football program competing for an Atlantic Coast Conference crown each season. Developing strong chemistry with starting signal-caller D’Eriq King, in his eyes, has remained equally paramount.
“Me and D’Eriq have been clicking the whole fall camp and practices leading up to now,” Restrepo said. “He’s really been that leader and taken the guys under his wing as a whole offense. He’s making sure we all get that chemistry down so there are no hiccups at all.”
The combination of immense talent, work ethic and relationships with quarterbacks and coaches helps guide younger college wide receivers each year. Yet, one veteran has served as the critical role model.
“I’m closest to Mike Harley because he plays my position,” Restrepo said. “Watching every single rep on him and seeing how I can do it better or if he does a rep perfectly then seeing how I can emulate helps me try to perfect with what I’m doing.”
Restrepo emphasized the development of his relationship with Harley — a fifth-year senior who once shed tears in the office of former head coach Mark Richt upon committing to the University of Miami — during the offseason.
“Me and him go at it every single day, whether it’s a blocking drill or running routes, catching balls after practice,” Restrepo said. “Whenever he’s somewhere, I’m there and vice versa. My mom always told me to have fun later and work hard now, so that’s my mindset, I’m going to stick to my mindset and just keep going.”
As someone who had to once work his way up to a starting role, Harley hasn’t failed to take notice of Restrepo’s work ethic and commitment.
“You know, he always came in as a competitor, just wanted to be a starter from day one,” Harley said. “He’s learning the process, trusting the process, just waiting on his turn, just taking advantage of every opportunity he can get. So, I just see a lot of growth in him, just trusting the process.”
Restrepo’s dedication and passion for playing football near his South Florida home has not fallen short of success. The Hurricanes’ receiver of the future has overcome the first jarring impressions of a dream becoming reality, with envisions of ascending as a leader towards Miami’s aspiring successes.
Added Restrepo on his preserved relationships with his teammates, “It shows when stepping into Greentree during fall camp. We were just working on really everything. Speed, routes, helping me understand defenses more, and just becoming a better overall player.”