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Xavier Weaver Experienced Prime Time, Now Seeks His Time In League

Weaver wants to find his role and 'run with it' ahead of training camp

Xavier Weaver catches a pass at one of the Cardinals OTA practices.
Xavier Weaver catches a pass at one of the Cardinals OTA practices.

Boulder, Colorado was the center of the college football universe last year. The Buffaloes hired Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders to become their head coach. With it came one of football's biggest personalities.

Nobody had a better view of the "Prime Time effect" than Xavier Weaver, the Cardinals rookie wide receiver. He was the primary target for Sanders' offense. On any given Saturday, Weaver felt the eyes of millions watching him and his teammates.

"It was a roller coaster in every way with the ups and downs, on and off the field," Weaver said. "But then again, it was fun, for real. The whole world was watching us for the whole season, but the first couple weeks, it was crazy."

It hasn't been a linear path for Weaver to get to the league. He spent his first four years at the University of South Florida before committing to Coach Prime and Colorado. He hauled in 68 receptions for 908 yards in 2023.

A projected day three selection in the NFL Draft, Weaver did not hear his name called. The Cardinals ended up signing him as an undrafted free agent.

Sanders, an individual that has a whole wall in his office dedicated to motivational quotes, had the perfect message to Weaver after the draft.

"He just told me, 'go prove them wrong and show the other teams what they missed out on,'" Weaver said. "At the end of the day, I got to be myself."

Weaver said he didn't have much communication with the Cardinals brass ahead of the draft, but the Valley was a location he had his eye on.

"We came out here last year to play Arizona State and I told all of my buddies that I'd live in Arizona," Weaver said. "It all played out."

It's usually an uphill climb for undrafted players to see the gridiron, but the Cardinals have a notable track record of signing undrafted prospects that have made the 53-man roster. Wide receiver Greg Dortch and running back Emari Demercado are two offensive weapons that fit that mold.

Once the players arrive to the facility, what round they were selected in doesn't necessarily matter. Coach Jonathan Gannon looks at what a player can bring to the table once their number is called.

"It's about the amount of reps you get and you make your reps count," Gannon said. "The guys that do really well in this league take advantage of their opportunities and run with it. I think that's what we're going to need from some of our guys."

The wide receiver room has tons of depth going into training camp. Marvin Harrison Jr. headlines the room with Michael Wilson, Dortch, and Zay Jones all likely to earn tons of playing time. Weaver said he recognizes everybody is "hungry to take somebody's job because at the end of the day, it's a business. But, we're all real close."

Last season with the Buffaloes, Weaver felt the buzz surrounding campus. Whether it was Lil Wayne walking out with the team against Colorado State, or checking his phone and frequently seeing his team on the news, he's no stranger towards the noise.

It's a similar hype and optimism that swarms the Cardinals facility throughout the offseason.

Weaver made a name for himself and graduated from Prime Time and Colorado. Now, it's Weaver Time.

"I just needed my foot in the door and I got the opportunity," he said. "(Going undrafted) definitely put a little bit more fuel to the fire, but it's a blessing to be here."