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Xavier Legette had a singular focus in the offseason, that he's now brought to the Panthers

240510 Rookie Mini Camp-07

CHARLOTTE—Standing in front of Xavier Legette, even without the advantage of pads and full football equipment, it's evident he's a larger-than-life receiver. At 225 pounds, it's easy for him to shadow those around him in the receiver corps, much like he did at South Carolina, and in the NFL draft class, where he was the largest of the seven receivers taken in the first round.

His size first stood out back in March at the NFL Combine, when Dave Canales first met the man who would eventually become his first draft pick as a head coach.

"Really at the combine, got to see him there in person foot to foot with him, to kind of size him up a little bit. And the way that he carries 225 is pretty incredible, so it's just really well distributed in his body," Canales said on Friday, following the Carolina Panthers first day of rookie minicamp.

"So, it doesn't look like there's this really, you know, thick man; he's just so proportionately built. And then his movement skills, the way that he controls his body, the way he gets in and out of breaks, it's pretty special to see him out there moving around like he does, it's really, it's impressive."

That last part though, hasn't always been the consensus on Legette's evaluation. In fact, the receiver told reporters on Friday that throughout the draft process, coaches rose concern about his fluidity, and subsequently his ability to win contested catches in the NFL.

"That was the most important thing to me to really put emphasis on certain routes that the media was saying that I couldn't run, I wasn't able to run," Legette said of what his offseason focus has been.

This is the kid who capped his final year with the Gamecocks, notching 71 receptions for 1,255 yards and seven touchdowns. But due to the nature of the corps, Legette said he was asked to primarily be a deep receiver. That means a lot of go-balls and little creativity within the route tree.

"But," he adds, "I can run any route in the route tree, I feel that."

As the draft process ramped up, Legette worked with coaches at Receiver Factory and Gold Feet Global in Florida, fine tuning a skill he knew he already possessed, but wanted to bring to rookie camp better than ever.

Specifically, he worked on comebacks and curls; "Anything that's coming back out of my break, which is where I'm dropping my hips, any route that contains that…so, I just, I felt like that was the most important thing to me. So, I just worked on those things a lot."

Friday didn't hold a lot of football for the Panthers rookies. There rarely is on the first day of rookie minicamp. Yet despite various passes being short (something Dave Canales attributed to the two UDFA quarterbacks getting used to Legette's speed) and the half-speed nature of the drills, Legette still exhibited everything he's been working on this offseason and beyond. During sideline drills, he used the perimeter as a guide and kept his intentions hidden until he quickly turned back at the last second.

On go up and get it balls, he exhibited complete control over his balance, working around imaginary defenders. And on drills across the middle, he flipped his hips with the ease of a much smaller receiver.

Asked why he thought so many doubted his ability to play such a game, he pointed to the tape that was never asked of him to do so, in addition to preconceived notions about a receiver of his stature.

"It's mostly my size. A lot of folks say a lot of bigger guy can't get in and out of their breaks, but I want to show them different," Legette said.

There is one receiver that naturally comes to mind though, as a comparison: Seattle's DK Metcalf. He's someone Legette admits to watching a lot of – "They say the same thing about him. So, I just try to see what he does best to get open in the league"—and a receiver that was coached for the first four years of his career by current Panthers head coach Dave Canales, and Panthers offensive coordinator Brad Idzik.

It bodes well for how this offense could use a receiver like Xavier Legette. But that's still months away. For now, he'll finish out rookie minicamp, join quarterback Bryce Young next week, and prove all he can do now, and all he can become.

View photos of the 2024 rookie class as they participate in drills on the first day of minicamp.

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