The first day of training camp was in the books and Xavier Truss was completely soaked. Rain fell throughout the nighttime practice at Bishop Hendricken, yet another factor for the drenched appearance was the variety of drills the coaches were putting the players through that included sprinting the length of the football field.
As he attempted to dry himself off with a towel, perhaps Truss took a moment to reflect on how simple his life had once again become. The recruiting chapter of his life officially closed on the night of Father’s Day when the 6-foot-7, 325-pound offensive lineman committed to the University of Georgia as part of the Class of 2019.
It was a major weight lifted off his broad shoulders and enabled Truss to head into the summer leading into his senior year of high school with a resolute football purpose as it relates to the Hendricken program. By the same token, Truss could also enjoy being a teenager, knowing his college plans have been firmed up.
“I can focus more on football and school when it starts,” Truss said.
For a stretch earlier this year, Truss was a sought-after recruiting commodity that’s been rarely seen around Rhode Island. He was the envy of schools from the SEC, ACC, and Big Ten. Either coaches were coming to Hendricken’s campus to meet with Truss or he was on their campus, listening to sales pitches about why he should choose their school.
Originally, Truss thought he would verbally commit after taking his official visits during the fall. There’s no room for confusion or interpretation when you’re that sure about something. Make no mistake … like the Ray Charles song says, Truss had Georgia on his mind.
“I visited there in February and everyone welcomed me with open arms. I knew that it was one of the schools that I had to get back to,” Truss said. “I went to back to Georgia in early June to get the full experience and thought that nothing else could top it.”
Truss operates in the football trenches, meaning he doesn’t get the headlines that are reserved for those who throw touchdown passes or come away with timely interceptions. He wasn’t an unknown, however. After competing in the shot put at the R.I. indoor state track meet this past February, Truss got in the car and along with his parents Steve and Gina and cousin Jessica embarked upon a week-long tour of places where college football is king.
Clemson, national champs as recently as 2016, was the first stop on the Truss Recruiting Caravan. Then it was off to Georgia for a two-day visit where Truss spent a lot of time with his future offensive line coach (Sam Pittman). Auburn was the third stop followed by defending national champion Alabama. Penn State represented the final spot that Truss checked out before heading back to his native West Warwick.
“Ten years from now, I hope to look back and say I was just very lucky and fortunate. I had a great time at every place I visited. Just a bunch of great memories,” Truss said. “After I left every campus, everything felt so surreal. You like something about one campus more so than the one you were just at. They all had a different vibe.”
Looking back, Truss can smile about how quickly the news spread about appearing on this or that campus.
“Half an hour after we were back on the road, I would check my phone and see five articles about me visiting the school I just left,” Truss said. “That was crazy.”
At first, Truss felt obligated to grant every request for media interviews and answer text messages from prospective college coaches. After consulting his fellow blue-chip recruits – depending on the scouting service, Truss is either a four-star or five-star prospect – he decided to take a more selective approach.
“I would still respond to people, but it was so overwhelming that I didn’t realize how much time it was consuming. I was spending much of my day talking to different coaches and people who wanted interviews,” Truss said.
“If I can help Rhode Island football get out there and get recognized and show them we can play too, that would be great.”
By the beginning of June, Truss cut his list down to six schools: Georgia, Auburn, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Alabama. After a second visit to Alabama, he made another subtraction as he let the Crimson Tide go. He wound up committing to the Bulldogs while having dinner at the home of Georgia head coach Kirby Smart.
“As soon as I said I was coming, coach Smart’s kids jumped all over me,” Truss said. “It was an overwhelming feeling, but I felt very comfortable.”
When Truss faced his Hendricken teammates for the first time after pledging to Georgia, he told them to not look at him in a different, rarified light. Yes, he was going to a big-time school, but that doesn’t change anything.
“A lot of my teammates and classmates, they all thought I was going to Penn State. It was a shock to them and even to some in my family that I chose Georgia,” Truss said.
— Xavier Truss (@xtruss94) June 17, 2018
The Hawks haven’t named captains for the 2018 season, though it would come as a major surprise to see Truss not pegged as one of the team’s official leaders.
Besides getting back to the R.I. State Championship Super Bowl and avenging last year’s one-point loss to rival La Salle Academy, Truss hopes the recruiting whirlwind he experienced gets to be enjoyed by the football talent in the Ocean State, whether that someone is a teammate or an opponent.
To Truss, it’s about paying it forward – the kind of feel-good position he finds himself in now that the recruiting wars have died down.
“If I can help Rhode Island football get out there and get recognized and show them we can play too, that would be great,” Truss said.
Looking ahead, Truss plans to sign his National Letter of Intent in December. On January 5, he’ll be in San Antonio for the invitation-only 2019 All-American Bowl.
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