Diaz: Our team isn’t far from competing for championships
Xavier Restrepo knew from the moment the Miami Hurricanes offered him a scholarship the hometown team would be one of his top choices. The three-star athlete grew up a serious Miami fan, so, if it worked out, he wanted to play for the team he grew up watching.
“I’ve always wanted to go there since I was 6, 7, 8 years old,” Restrepo said Friday.
Just two days earlier, Restrepo took a step toward making his longstanding dream a reality. About a week earlier, offensive coordinator Dan Enos headed out to Deerfield Beach to evaluate Restrepo as an offensive prospect and gave him the go-ahead to commit Wednesday.
Almost immediately, Restrepo took the staff up on the opportunity and orally committed to the Hurricanes.
“I’d just been waiting for the green light,” Restrepo said. “As soon as I got the green light, I talked it over with my parents and we all came to an agreement. And they were basically like, If this is what you want to do, then we’re going to support you no matter what, so I decided to pull the trigger, and go ahead and commit.”
Recruiting Restrepo wasn’t as easy as making him an offfer and waiting on him to make his pledge. Miami first made an offer to Restrepo last year shortly after he transferred to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas for his junior season. He was mostly unknown at the time and his 5-foot-10, 186-pound frame gave teams pause, but schools quickly became intrigued by his two-way skill. Some schools liked the prospect for his potential as a slot receiver. Others liked how physical and intelligent he was as a defensive back. Most coaches figured they could figure out where to use him once they got him on campus.
The last category is where Restrepo falls into now for the Hurricanes. At first, Miami loved his potential in the secondary. Safeties coach Ephraim Banda was the one to initially evaluate Restrepo to play his side of the ball, so Restrepo built a relationship with some of the defensive coaches, even when he wasn’t able to commit. Once former defensive coordinator Manny Diaz became coach, Restrepo felt even better about the chances he would wind up in the Hurricanes’ Class of 2020.
“Me and him always had that connection, so as soon as he became head coach I was like, ‘Oh, OK. This is serious. It’s time,’” Restrepo said. “The way that he controls his defense, I can just imagine the way he’s going to control his team.”
Enos’ evaluation was ultimately what set up Restrepo to commit, though. The nation’s No. 63 athlete in the 247Sports.com composite rankings for his class, Restrepo said Miami doesn’t specifically like him on one side of the ball.
Banda initially was enamored with Restrepo’s intelligence and his physicality as a strong safety. Enos saw a lot of the same traits carry over to Restrepo’s play as a wide receiver when he watched him practice with the Bucks. His athletic tools are among the best in Florida, too — he ran a 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds, the shuttle in 4.16 seconds and logged a 32.5-inch vertical leap to win wide receivers MVP at The Opening Miami regional in February in Davie.
“People ask me, What do you prefer? What do you prefer? I just tell them I can’t, you know? I just love the game. Everything about the game, I just love it,” Restrepo said. “They said, ‘Whatever you come in as, just be ready to play the other side because you’re a ballplayer,’ so either way I’m going to be able to get on that field. I’m just going to do whatever it takes to just help out my team.”
For now, Restrepo doesn’t have any other visits planned. Something could always change, but he has wanted to be a Hurricane so long it’s currently hard for him to envision a scenario in which he doesn’t sign with Miami in December.
Restrepo is on track to early enroll and ready to chip in any way he can.
Said Restrepo: “I can’t wait for December.”