Some of the top college football coaches in the country have made the trip to Bishop Hendricken in recent weeks, all for one common purpose – recruiting highly-coveted offensive lineman Xavier Truss.
Truss, who stands at 6-foot-7 and 330 pounds, is the reason why legendary coaches like Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer have flocked to Hendricken for a meeting with he and Hendricken coaches.
“It’s been a crazy feeling,” Hendricken head coach Keith Croft said of having big-time coaches like Harbaugh and Meyer visit Hendricken. “It’s a great honor for the kid. It gives him an opportunity to see what it’s like to play at the next level.”
Currently, Truss has offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida, Florida State, Penn State, Maryland, Boston College, UConn, Mississippi State, Oregon, North Carolina, Rutgers, Army, Brigham Young University, Missouri, Syracuse and Virginia Tech. Truss is also drawing interest from national champion Alabama, although no official offer has been made.
Croft doesn’t believe that Truss, who concluded his junior season this past fall as a First Team All-State selection, is close to making a verbal commitment. After helping Michigan’s Kwity Paye go through the recruiting process more than a year ago, Croft knows that it can be an overwhelming time for a high school kid, and he has advised Truss to take as much time as he needs to make the right decision for him.
“Going through this process with Kwity recently, I think it’s in the student-athlete’s best interest to wait as long as possible,” Croft said. “He can take up to five official visits.”
Paye has helped Truss in more ways than one. In addition to giving Truss a glimpse of the recruiting process last year, Paye also helped Truss become a better player when he was just a sophomore, as Paye and Truss frequently went head-to-head in practice, giving Truss some confidence that he could hold his own against an elite rusher.
“Xavier saw it first-hand, so that helps,” Croft said of Truss witnessing Paye’s recruiting period. “Xavier going against Kwity when he was a sophomore has given Xavier a lot of confidence.”
It’s easy to see what college coaches like about Truss. To go along with his stature, he has tremendous lateral quickness and footwork. Additionally, coaches at those top schools have been around long enough to be able to project a player’s potential based on their current size and skill set.
“I think they can see the potential in him,” Croft said of the schools recruiting Truss. “He has the size, footwork, coordination and he’s still really young. Like most kids, his body will mature more.”
Players like Paye and Truss continue to put Rhode Island football on the map, proving that local football programs can produce talent that can compete with the best across the country.
“I think the success that Kwity has had at Michigan has opened the doors for a lot of kids,” Croft said. “Rhode Island players can play with kids from all over the country. Ten to 15 years ago, many didn’t think this was possible.”
If Truss waits to make his verbal commitment until after the start of his senior season, several big-time coaches from around the country will have an eye on Hendricken when it takes the field every Friday night. That would obviously present a great opportunity for Truss, but it would also give other players on the field the chance to impress recruiters, as well.
“It’s a good opportunity and I hope our team makes the most of it,” Croft said of the anticipated amount of coaches at his team’s games this fall. “I think it’s good for every team we play to have that kind of exposure. We need to play better, and we know that. We want to put our best foot forward because everyone will be being evaluated every time we take the field.”