Since arriving at FIU in November of 2016, head coach Butch Davis has lived up to his reputation as one of college football’s best recruiters.
The Panthers have had recruiting classes in the top half of C-USA for three straight years and are off to a strong start in 2020, with a trio of three-star prospects.
The latest of which is wide receiver Xavier McGriff out of Jacksonville’s Baldwin High School.
McGriff sat down with UDD to talk about his verbal to FIU, who he tries to emulate as a receiver and the football culture in Jacksonville.
Eric Henry: What sold you on committing to FIU?
Xavier McGriff: When Coach Hill (FIU WR’s coach Aubrey Hill) came to my high school, he gave me a clear understanding of the program.
We developed a great relationship and when I went to visit the school, it was just mind-blowing.
I just fell in love. I also like the fact that they have five senior receivers, so I’ve just been talking to some of the guys coming in like Kris Mitchell (2019 WR signee from Jacksonville’s Mandarin High) about what we can do afterwards.
EH: Tell me about your first meetings with Coach Hill and Butch Davis?
XM: When first talked to Coach Hill, everything he was saying was new to me.
I’d been to an FIU game, but I’d never been to the campus.
So he was just giving me the breakdown and that gave me a real solid feeling.
As soon as I visited, I sat down with some of the coaches, toured the campus and I felt like what Coach Hill said to me was genuinely true. He’s put wide receivers in the league and that’s where I’m trying to go.
Then, with Coach Davis, I talked to him on the phone and told I was committing, just getting the chance to talk to him was amazing. A great feeling.
EH: What did you like about Miami as a city and FIU as a university?
XM: First thing is that 93% of their student-athletes graduate. That was huge. The campus is huge, I like how big and diverse it is. It’s truly an international university.
EH: Let’s talk about you as a player. What’s your biggest strength as a receiver?
XM: I have great ball-skills, I feel like I play the ball well when it’s in the air. Doesn’t matter if it’s jump-balls or just those 50/50 balls, I feel like I can go get it.
EH: What aspects of your game are you working on?
XM: Definitely getting bigger, faster, stronger. That’s the goal. (McGriff currently is 6-2, 185-pounds.)
EH: The recruiting process can be kind of crazy. Talk about how that’s been for you?
XM: It’s been really fast, you know? Really hectic. I’ve been receiving a lot of phone calls, especially in the last month or two. A ton of texts, people coming to the school and workouts. So it’s definitely been hectic.
EH: You had a couple of Power Five offers, but you gave your verbal to FIU. Talk about that a bit.
XM: Yeah, there’s a couple schools that I didn’t think I would get an offer from. It’s kind of mind-blowing that I did. But I’m more than happy with FIU.
EH: Who’s the receiver that you model your game after?
XM: Calvin Johnson and Mike Williams (Former Clemson and current Los Angeles Charger). They’re big bodies like I am, they do a great job getting open in their routes, their footwork off of the line of scrimmage and they get in and out of their breaks. Those things caught my eye.
EH: How do you feel about your speed as a player right now?
XM: Right now, I’m at about a 4.6 40-yard-dash, but I have game speed. I know how to use my size and speed to get open and take the right angles to create separation and score touchdowns.
EH: Jacksonville is on the rise in terms of football talent. Talk about the football environment in Duval County.
XM: Jacksonville is a busy city, but we’re big on football. Everybody wants to play and there’s a lot of great athletes in this city. Schools like Trinity Catholic, Lee, Mandrin, everybody is surrounded by athletes and there’s a bond.
We all want to work each other to improve and be better than the last person to come out of Duval.
We want to see each other succeed.
EH: What are you looking forward to for your last high school season?
XM: First and foremost, I want to stay healthy so I can help my team on the field. Outside of that, just continue to do what I’m doing. Stay on the right path and focus on my academics and football.
EH: What can FIU fans expect from Xavier McGriff?
XM: A great athlete, who’s going to come prepared and do everything possible to get better and ball out. Just give the fans and the school everything I’ve got.