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Xavier Weaver reflects on Colorado football ahead of NFL combine: 'I am who I say I am'

Colorado football's senior wide receiver Xavier Weaver shrugs to the crowd after scoring a game-winning 2-point conversion against CSU in the Rocky Mountain Showdown on Sept. 16, 2023 at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo.
Colorado football's senior wide receiver Xavier Weaver shrugs to the crowd after scoring a game-winning 2-point conversion against CSU in the Rocky Mountain Showdown on Sept. 16, 2023 at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo.

Xavier Weaver caught more than 100 passes for 1,735 yards and eight touchdowns across four seasons (2019-2022) at the University of South Florida. Despite the impressive production in his home state, Weaver heard the doubts.

It's part of the reason he transferred to Colorado in 2023 for his final season of college eligibility. Now, he's the first Buff of the Deion Sanders era to be invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.

"Coming from USF and stuff like that, a lot of people probably said the competition level wasn't there or we weren't really playing anybody," Weaver said. "I'd say, in the most humble way possible, coming to another school helped me realize that I am who I say I am."

Weaver bet on himself and his wager paid off.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound wide receiver led Colorado with 68 receptions for 908 yards (13.4 yards per catch) and four touchdowns last season, quickly becoming the go-to target for quarterback Shedeur Sanders after joining the team in the summer. It was just the 10th time in program history that a player posted at least 60 catches and 750 yards in a season.

In his Buffs debut, Weaver burst onto the national scene with 118 yards on six catches during a thrilling, season-opening win over TCU. The following week against Nebraska, he caught a career-high 10 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown.

As far as the aforementioned competition goes, Colorado played against the top two passing defenses in the Pac-12 last season (Oregon, UCLA) and Weaver was productive in both matchups, combining for 161 yards on 14 receptions (11.5 yards per catch).

"Looking back at the season, I'd just say it's been a blessing," Weaver said. "The opportunities that's been put in front of me, I feel like I've taken advantage of them to the fullest. Coming to Colorado put me in that light and taught me a lot. It taught me about perseverance, teamwork and stuff like that.

"We were a brand new team, a whole bunch of new guys coming together, it's not as easy as a lot of people think it is."

That's the part of Weaver's season that shouldn't be overlooked.

After spending four seasons at one program close to home, the Orlando, Florida, native transferred across the country for a step up in competition. In a brand new environment with a new quarterback throwing him the ball and a new coaching staff calling the plays, Weaver had the best season of his college football career.

But the lack of offensive cohesion at times prevented Weaver, and others, from even more production. Sanders recently spoke to DNVR about how the frequent use of choice routes led to indecisiveness from both him and his receivers, Weaver included.

"We definitely had a lot of option routes and like he (Shedeur) said, it's kind of hard to get timing and stuff like that," Weaver said. "Maybe if I was there from the spring, maybe we would've been more connected. Maybe with certain coverages, we run this instead of that, but at the same time, we have to be on the same page.

"It definitely was tricky at times. It put a little bit of doubt in our heads and we couldn't go full speed every route sometimes, it probably messed up timing and stuff like that."

Sometimes it was a scheme flaw, other times there were breakdowns in execution that cost the Buffs big plays. During Colorado's Week 2 win over Nebraska, the latter prevented Weaver from having an even bigger performance than the one he had.

With 30 seconds left in the first half, the Cornhuskers dialed up an all-out pressure. Offensive coordinator Sean Lewis had the perfect play call: a tunnel screen to Weaver. Nebraska's blitz left just two defenders past the line of scrimmage on Weaver's side of the field with three CU blockers in front of him.

"I was supposed to score," Weaver said emphatically.

Instead of a walk-in, 30-yard touchdown catch-and-run to put Colorado up 17-0 before the half, Weaver was unable to get the one block downfield that he needed to reach paydirt. The Buffs were forced to settle for a field goal and Weaver, who finished the game with 170 yards and a touchdown on 10 catches, was robbed of a 200-yard, two-touchdown day.

"When I caught the ball, I waited on my linemen to come and I was going to scrape right off that block," Weaver said. "As I'm running, I don't know if I outran the block or he just didn't touch him, but he ran right through the block and got my leg.

"That's why, you can see, I got up so mad because all I seen was the end zone."

It's plays like those, including missing the season finale at Utah, that kept Weaver from reaching the coveted 1,000-yard mark (92 yards short). Still, he was arguably Colorado's most consistent offensive player (after Shedeur) and his 82.5 receiving yards per game ranked fifth in the Pac-12 last season.

More importantly, Weaver did enough in 2023 to earn an invite to the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine, the only Buff who will represent Colorado in Indianapolis (Feb. 26 through March 4).

"It's a blessing to even be looked at," Weaver said of the combine invite. "A year ago, I wasn't even thinking about the combine or being invited to the combine. I definitely have to put on for, not only the Buffs, but for my family and for my name on the back, too. I'm excited about it."

Weaver has been training in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as he continues to rehab a shoulder injury he suffered during the season. His busy days of combine prep begin at 6:30 a.m. and the plan is for him to do every drill at the Indianapolis event when the wide receivers are featured on Saturday, March 2.

If there's one franchise Weaver is hoping to impress before April's NFL draft, it's the Baltimore Ravens: a talented squad with a superstar quarterback in need of another playmaking receiver.

"If I play with Lamar (Jackson), oh yeah, that's a quarterback I'd definitely want to play with," Weaver said of Jackson, who is also a Florida native. "I like watching Lamar because if I played quarterback, that's how I'd play. I'd run it way more, though."

"I'd also say the Texans, they're a young team and I feel like they're a good team as well."

Follow Colorado Buffaloes sports reporter Scott Procter on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Xavier Weaver reflects on Colorado Buffs ahead of NFL combine, draft