The 2023 Senior Bowl will provide an opportunity for NFL draft prospects to prove themselves on the largest pre-draft stage. Iowa State wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson plans on taking full advantage. Hutchinson recently spoke exclusively with the Senior Bowl and Draft Network to discuss his motivation for accepting his invitation to compete in Mobile, Alabama.
Hutchinson also talked about what he’s striving to prove to NFL general managers and scouts in attendance at the Senior Bowl, his big-play ability, and more. Let’s get to know Xavier Hutchinson a little bit better.
JM: Where were you when you found out about your Senior Bowl invite and what was your initial reaction like?
Xavier Hutchinson: I was in coach [Matt] Campbell’s office. He’s the one who handed me the invite. I was overwhelmed with joy in all honesty. I saw all of my hard work throughout my college career pay off at that moment. Receiving a Senior Bowl invite means I’ve been recognized as one of the top players in the country. I’m blessed to have received an invite. I’m truly thankful.
JM: What was your motivation for accepting the Senior Bowl’s offer?
Xavier Hutchinson: I’m looking forward to proving people wrong. I’ve lived by that my entire life. I feel like I’ve always been a little undervalued or underrated. That’s always motivated me to play at the highest level. I’m always searching for the next best thing I can achieve. That’s one of the reasons I chose to attend the Senior Bowl.
JM: I’m going to expand on that a little bit. What are you hoping to prove to NFL general managers, coaching staffs, and scouts in attendance in Mobile?
Xavier Hutchinson: I want to reinforce what people saw from me on film. I’m a guy that can do it all for your offense. Whatever situation you put me in, whatever play you need me to execute, I can do that at the highest level.
Whether it’s screens, the short game, intermediate or deep routes, I can make plays all over the field. I want to show everybody that I’m the whole package. I’m also excited to compete against the best players in the nation.
JM: You did a little bit of everything at Iowa State. Your game didn’t have any limitations. Are there any players on the Senior Bowl roster you’re especially looking forward to competing alongside?
Xavier Hutchinson: I’m looking forward to playing against everybody in all honesty. There are going to be so many excellent players at the Senior Bowl. They were obviously invited for a reason. That makes me excited. I love playing against the best. When that happens, you naturally have to bring your best to the table.
JM: When we turn the tape on, we see an extremely nuanced route runner. Do you have a favorite route to run?
Xavier Hutchinson: We run a “Q” route. I think they call it a blaze out in the NFL. You sell the post for three steps, you sell vertically and then you come out of it. It’s very similar to an out route. I would definitely say that’s one of my favorite routes. That’s one of the best, most consistent routes that I run.
JM: You’re listed at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds. What are some of the ways you use your size to your advantage?
Xavier Hutchinson: You have to use what’s naturally given to you. Like you said, I’m 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds. I carry all of that weight well onto my frame. Any chance I get to manipulate my body and use it against somebody, and use my leverage, I’m going to take advantage of what’s been given to me. I have full control of my body and the advantages it affords me.
JM: You’ve talked about being underrated and undervalued. Your legacy at Iowa State will go down in history. You’re the first player in Big 12 history to lead the conference in receptions three years in a row. You had over 100 catches this year. What comes to mind when I tell you these things?
Xavier Hutchinson: I’m extremely thankful. If you were to tell me when I was in junior college, or when I was headed to junior college, I probably would have laughed at you. I wouldn’t have believed you. To see the way this journey has unfolded in front of my eyes, it makes me super thankful. I try to take in every moment during the season, whether it was good or bad and whether it went in my favor or not. That’s all you can do. I’m very thankful.
JM: What was your JUCO experience like?
Xavier Hutchinson: My JUCO experience was something else (laughs). I didn’t really play during the first six games. I struggled with that. JUCO is a grind. Is football going to work out for me? These are the things you think of when you’re going through JUCO.
I eventually got my opportunity late into the season. It was tough. You’re going to find out whether or not you really love football. That’s what JUCO does to you. It’s going to test your limits. Thankfully, I love football and I overcame those obstacles. It’s going to test your love of the game. I’m so happy I believed in my abilities.
JM: I hear the same thing every time I ask about JUCO. It really is a grind. What can you achieve at the Senior Bowl that you can’t at other pre-draft events?
Xavier Hutchinson: I think my competitiveness is really going to shine on the biggest stage. I want to be perfect. I’m always trying to perfect my craft. Being perfect isn’t achievable, but I’m always going to strive for greatness.
That’s my approach every time I put on my cleats. I want to perfect my craft when I put on my helmet and step onto a football field. I have the same approach no matter what I’m doing. Whether it’s a route or run blocking, I’m going to put my best foot forward.
Everybody at the Senior Bowl is going to see the true football side of Xavier Hutchinson. That’s my competitiveness coming through. It’s not just about running in a straight line. The combine is a different story altogether.
JM: We can’t wait to see you there. Is there a player in the NFL you’re looking forward to eventually swapping jerseys with?
Xavier Hutchinson: I’m going to keep it in-house. It would have to be anybody in the NFL that played at Iowa State. Allen Lazard, Breece Hall, Charlie Kolar, and Brock Purdy immediately come to mind. I hope I get an opportunity to swap jerseys with all of those guys.
JM: Brock Purdy isn’t doing too bad for being Mr. Irrelevant, huh? He looks pretty relevant to me.
Xavier Hutchinson: He’s not doing too bad at all (laughs). I always knew he had this in him, man. I’m so happy to see him thriving at the highest level. He has a few more big games coming up in the playoffs. I hope he can continue enjoying this level of success.
JM: He’s been special. At the end of the week, what does a successful Senior Bowl week look like for Xavier Hutchinson?
Xavier Hutchinson: A successful Senior Bowl looks like me capitalizing on every opportunity. Whether it’s one-on-one drills, the game itself, I plan to maximize every single opportunity I receive at the Senior Bowl.
That would build excellent momentum for myself heading into the combine and the rest of the pre-draft process.
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