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Michigan releases Texas WR commit Xavier Worthy from his NLI

On Monday, Texas Longhorns wide receiver commit Xavier Worthy received his acceptance into the university and on Wednesday he was officially released from the National Letter of Intent that he signed with the Michigan Wolverines last December.

Mike Roach of Horns247 confirmed the news with Worthy.

Recruited by new Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian out of Fresno Central in California, Worthy committed to the Wolverines over the Crimson Tide and other offers last summer. He signed with Michigan as a consensus four-star prospect ranked as the No. 61 player nationally and the No. 8 wide receiver, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

In mid-April, Worthy announced his decommitment, citing “circumstances beyond my control” and noting that he had requested a release from his NLI.

Sarkisian and the Horns quickly emerged as the favorite for the 6’1, 160-pounder and landed a commitment from Worthy during the Orange-White game that ended spring practice on April 24.

A track star at Fresno Central who excelled in the 100m, 200m, and long jump, Worthy posted a personal-best of 10.55 in the 100m as a sophomore — when he arrives on campus this summer, he will immediately challenge for the title of the fastest player on the team.

Like other California prospects, Worthy wasn’t able to play a fall football season as a senior. In 2019, Worthy recorded 54 catches for 992 yards and 16 touchdowns, an average of 18.4 yards per catch and a touchdown every 3.4 catches.

Clearly, the track speed translates to pads as Worthy made plays as a kick returner, a Wildcat quarterback, and as a wide receiver.

Central ran some four-wide receiver formations in order to get Worthy favorable matchups in the slot where his speed can punish defenders, as well as the glance route run-pass option that Sarkisian uses as a base play in his offense.

On that play, Worthy showed the ability to catch the ball outside the framework of his body on a high throw without losing speed as he broke to daylight, then finished with a physical cut and burst of explosiveness to find the end zone.

Despite the fact that Worthy is listed at 160 pounds, much like Alabama Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith out of high school, he plays bigger than his size — he can step through arm tackles, thanks in part to his explosiveness, though it’s questionable whether that ability will translate to college at his current weight.

The dynamic playmaking for Worthy continues in the open field, where his ability to make high-speed cuts can keep defenders from even getting close to tackling him. In smaller spaces, his slide cut covers significant ground laterally, a big advantage on screen passes or the types of hitches or stop routes that Sarkisian doesn’t typically care to less, but could represent easy throws for quarterbacks without a lot of college experience to take advantage of defenses threatened by Worthy’s vertical speed.

In the jet sweep game, Worthy shows the type of one-cut ability that the best running backs possess — he can stick his foot in the ground and get vertical

One question is whether Worthy can beat press coverage, but Sarkisian will hunt matchups for him if Worthy’s growth lags in that area and his quick feet should help him avoid having to use his hands — jamming him is going to be difficult with his short-area quickness. Simply put, Worthy will move around in Sarkisian’s offense, but he won’t be asked to do the things that big-bodied X receivers did in Tom Herman’s offense, for instance. He could play multiple years at Texas and never really have to beat a cornerback in his face at the snap.

There’s already plenty of talent in the Texas wide receiver room. However, it’s all still relatively unproven and Sarkisian’s willingness to add Worthy to a position group that is already more crowded than he would prefer indicates the continued need for the players on campus to step up and Sarkisian’s belief that he needs more instant playmaking ability.

In addition to contending for playing time at wide receiver, Worthy is explosive enough to push sophomore running back Bijan Robinson for a spot at kick returner.

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