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Georgia Football Recruiting

In Xavier We Truss

December 15, 2018

WARWICK, R.I. - About a year ago, Xavier Truss saw one path in his life that involved football.

“I thought I was going to play at URI (University of Rhode Island), and that would be it.” 

Those are pretty low expectations for a 6-foot-7 behemoth of an offensive tackle, especially one that can move like Truss. Then again, that was his only scholarship offer at that point. He didn’t think he would get the opportunity to leave the state, much less the Northeast region of the country. Still, Truss was happy with it. He was content if that’s where his football career ended up taking him. 

Things are a little different now. Truss is now a University of Georgia commit and a top-150 player in the country with offers to some of the biggest colleges in the nation. 

Those offers didn’t trickle in, either. They all hit him at once. In the 62 days between January 4 and March 7 of 2018, Truss received scholarships from 30 different programs, nearly an offer every other day, almost all of which were power-five teams.

“It was fast. Like really fast,” said Keith Croft, Truss’ high school football coach. “URI offered really early, and it just snowballed. Penn State got involved, and once they got involved then they all started coming in - Maryland, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State.”

For someone who only a few months prior thought they would be playing FCS football, all this attention “was overwhelming,” Truss said. So how did he come to pick Georgia after receiving an offer only a few months before? Well, you just follow the breadcrumbs. 

Truss started making serious visits in late February. He did a little tour of the dominant programs of the south: Clemson, Georgia, Auburn and Alabama. He stayed one night at all of those schools except for one—Georgia, where he stayed two nights. He visited Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State in April. In mid-June, he went down south again to see Georgia, Alabama and Auburn. Once again, he stayed one night at all of them but one - you can guess which school that was… UGA.

Truss wasn’t looking for something the program had on his visits. Rather, he was looking for the feeling it gave. The feeling Georgia gave him was one of home. The people were welcoming to him and the people there made him feel the most comfortable. Specifically one person—Sam Pittman. 

“Coach Pittman, there’s nobody like him,” Truss said. “I can crack a joke with him, then 45 minutes later have him go out and coach me on my feet.” 

These visits were something that no one around Truss had really experienced because frankly, Rhode Island kids don’t generally garner this kind of hype. It’s just too easy to get overlooked in a state not known for its football prowess. Truss though didn’t want to fall into that. 

“I guarantee there are some players who could have gone to some D1 schools but just got overlooked,” Truss said. “I’m trying not to be one of those people.”

Except it’s hard not to notice a guy like Truss. He towers above all of his Rhode Island counterparts just in size. Then when it comes to football, he’s a bulldozer. In his first game of his senior season, he knocked kids down to the ground at will. Sometimes he would even pancake an opposing player twice in the same play.

Power-five scouts could have easily missed all of this, though. And honestly, they almost did. Thankfully enough for Truss, his first season on varsity, Bishop Hendricken had Kwity Paye, a defensive end now playing at the University of Michigan. Paye was recruited heavily by Don Brown, who was at Boston College when he first saw Truss before taking the defensive coordinator job at Michigan. 

Seeing Truss go against Paye in practice daily wasn’t enough to get Brown to offer a scholarship then. But it helped show that Truss wasn’t just a big kid from Rhode Island. He was a legit prospect.

“I was always bigger than everybody so I would use size to my advantage freshman year,” Truss said. “But come sophomore year when I got varsity time, I had to use technique and speed going against Kwity.” 

That was several years ago before Truss even had a college offer. He hasn’t faced that kind of talent in a while. The fact that he hasn’t faced kids from the south makes people think he’s bound for a redshirt year, something Croft thinks could really benefit him. 

“He’s not the type of kid to say ‘if they’re going to redshirt me I’m not going to go.’” Croft said. “I think their freshman year, redshirt them, take it easy. I think the more you transition into the game, the better they are going to be short term and long term.”

Truss, of course says he doesn’t want to redshirt. As a competitor and someone who loves football, he wants to play. He’s not obtuse, though. He knows the kind of talent UGA has brought in at offensive tackle. If he gets redshirted, he won’t see it through a negative lens. He’ll just see it as a motivator.

“If I don’t play, that’s on me,” Truss said. “That means I have to work harder than the guy in front of me to start in front of him.”

Redshirting seems like a very likely option for Truss, and people around him see that. How some in the media assume he’s going to be a project just because he’s from Rhode Island is where you lose Croft. 

“I think it’s unfair,” Croft said. “We push them hard. Is it Texas? Is it Florida? Is it Georgia? No, but we believe you guys can compete with teams all around the country... We got former college coaches on staff. This is not your typical small town, small community football program.”

There isn’t anything they can do to change those perceptions, really. The only way to prove people wrong is through the kids they send out to different colleges and Truss is next in line. Football players from Rhode Island have to wear it like a badge to show people they aren’t just playing touch football.

“I get that whole thing, but there are dogs out here,” Truss said. “I’m going to go out there and try and prove something.”

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