clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Unheralded 2013 Player of the Week: Xavier McElhannon

San Antonio running back Xavier McElhannon lacks great size and speed, but his vision and instincts make him a productive runner.

Photo Courtesy of Neal and Miyuki McElhannon /
If you're searching for San Antonio Johnson running back Xavier McElhannon online, you'll have to know where to look. A Rivals search reveals that there are profiles for 78 Texas high school running backs in the class of 2013, but he is not one of them. ESPN's RecruitingNation doesn't have a page for him, and it appears that not a word has been written about him on 247Sports or Scout. He doesn't even have so much as a NCSA profile. He is much harder to miss when on the football field, unless one is a defensive player, that is. McElhannon ran for 1,197 yards (averaging 7 yards/carry) and 10 touchdowns as a junior and has had a solid first half of his senior year.

In the first week of the 2012 season, McElhannon ran for 266 yards and 2 touchdowns on 24 carries, breaking Johnson High's single-game rushing record and helping to lead his team to a 36-0 shutout victory over Rio Grande Valley powerhouse Harlingen, a program that had not lost a regular season game since 2008. In the weeks since then he has been the biggest weapon in Johnson's offense, doing workhorse duty in regularly tallying over 20 carries and breaking the 100-yard rushing mark in every game save one. Through five games he has carried the football 91 times for 622 yards and 6 touchdowns, and added 5 receptions for 59 yards.

McElhannon is commonly listed as 5'10" and a little over 180 lbs. He likely won't be mistaken for a track star, but what he lacks in elite breakaway speed (he looks to be perhaps a 4.6 40 type of player) he makes up for with good vision and very good instincts when running the ball. He follows his blockers and bursts through creases as they develop, reaching his top speed quickly. He has good feet and makes quick cuts that keep defenders off balance while still being able to maintain much of his momentum. He looks like a player who is very good at seeing how a play is developing and knowing which cut to make, when to change direction, when to speed forward and when to wait an extra second for a blocker to shield him from a would-be tackler. If you were creating a Xavier McElhannon player in a NCAA Football video game, he'd have a better-than-average speed rating, good agility, good acceleration, and a very high awareness rating. Though he doesn't have prototypical size for a running back he has exceptional upper body strength, bench pressing 340 lbs. at a team fundraiser in March.

When I first watched his junior highlights a few months ago I did some searching and was shocked to find that that he did not have a page on any of the major recruiting sites. So far in his senior year he looks like an even more decisive and powerful runner than he was as a junior, and appears to have gotten a bit faster, as well. In his Hudl highlights from this season (see: here), the first play is an impressive 79-yard touchdown run where he goes around the right end, makes a slight stutter step to make a defender miss in the open field, stiff-arms a would be tackler near the sideline, and outruns three opponents the rest of the way to the end zone. He might not have future All-American written all over him, but how he doesn't have at least some level of attention from the people who actually get paid to cover recruiting, I don't know. He obviously hasn't been graded by Rivals but I would take McElhannon over some of their three-star running backs in the class.

To me he looks like a guy who could get some FBS offers late in the recruiting process if his senior highlights are seen widely, or he could end up playing for a FCS or Division II school and starring there. Either way I think he'll surprise people at the next level.

For anyone interested in getting an in-person look at Xavier McElhannon and his San Antonio Johnson teammates, I've posted the remainder of their schedule below. I wish I were in San Antonio this weekend because their next game pits them against San Antonio Churchill and their 2014 do-everything star-in-the-making Dimitri Flowers, who was my pick to cap off BON's 2014 My Guys Recruiting Draft last month.

October 12 - vs. San Antonio Churchill

October 20 - at San Antonio Roosevelt
October 26 - vs. San Antonio Reagan
November 2 - at San Antonio Lee
November 9 - vs. San Antonio Madison

Previous Unheralded 2013 Player of the Week picks:
Week Five - Charleston White, WR (Amarillo Palo Duro)
Week Four - Gennard Johnson, DT (Waxahachie)
Week Three - Devante Pullum, Athlete (Little Elm)
Week Two - Tyrel Stokes, DB (Killeen Harker Heights)
Week One - Derick Bates, WR (Belton)
Week Zero - Collin Bowen, QB (Canyon Randall)