Xazavian Valladay, Proud Crusader
By John McGlynn
Growing up on the South Side of Chicago in the West Lawn neighborhood, competition was the name of the game. Whether it be a game of fast pitch at Hurley grammar school, a game of tackle football at the rose garden at Marquette park, basketball behind Buddah’s house, or whiffle ball on the tracks of Central park, everything was for blood. No one competed harder than us. Or so we thought. Us tight knit group of friends, or Cobras, from Queen of the Universe never backed down from any fight. We found out as time went on that thinking you were good and actually being good are two different places in the pecking order of life.
Playing left tackle for my high school football team, the Brother Rice Crusaders, in the Chicago Catholic league, is when I found out what real competition really was. Playing head to head vs NFL legends like Right defensive end Simeon Rice of Mount Carmel who ended up with one hundred and twenty two NFL sacks with the Cardinals and Buccaneers, or Renaldo Wynn of De La Salle who played for thirteen years for the Jaguars and Commanders. Wynn ended up with two hundred and seventy tackles and twenty seven sacks. Donovan McNabb was also a quarterback for Mount Carmel and Mike Alstott was also in my graduating year from Joliet Catholic. Two time Super Bowl champion David Diehl is also another notable Crusader to add to the list of Chicago Catholic league studs.
I was lucky enough to watch my son Johnny play at Brother Rice High school with fantastic talent also. One of the players he was lucky enough to call a teammate was Xazavian Valladay. “X” as he was called was fantastic on the football field. My fellow teammate and head Coach of Brother Rice, had this to say about X. “X was a workhorse, he did whatever we needed him to do for the team. He played at a high level in all three phases of the game. As a running back, he had great vision and would get downhill in a hurry. He had very good hands and was a great pass blocker. He was truly a pleasure to coach. X competed every day and worked extremely hard in the off season. To see him have so much success at the college level was no surprise to us and we can't wait to see him get his opportunity to play on Sundays”
Sundays for X seemed like a no brainer to most who watched him play. At Wyoming from 2018 to 2021, X had 626 rushing attempts for 3,281 yards with 51 receptions for 584 receiving yards and 18 total touchdowns. In 2022, X transferred to Arizona State where he X-ploded for 1,192 rushing yards on 215 carries, 37 receptions for 289 receiving yards, and 18 total touchdowns. He was a huge part of the Sun Devils offense. X does have great speed as he ran a 4.43 at his pro day and benched 225 twenty two times. The only thing that messed up X’s path to greatness was the covid years which added years to his college lifespan as he is already 24 years old and it also added a ton of work to his legs and body.
Some positives about X are that he holds onto the ball very well, has great vision, can brush off poor tacklers, is very shifty, can catch passes all over the field and his vision in the box is good. Some concerns are that he’s not the biggest back as his 199 LB frame at six foot tall doesn’t quite hit the magical 212 pound number that most scouts look for. He has power and can contribute out of the backfield as part of a rotation but will probably never be a team's workhorse. Pass blocking is not his strength but he can do it, His age and usage are both starting to enter levels not attractive to NFL coaches, has never been an outstanding contributor on special teams, and some concentration drops in the passing game will need to be eliminated.
Player comps for X on the Relative Athletic Score charts came up all over the board, as players like Reggie Bush, Tevin Coleman, Darrynton Evans, Miles Sanders, and a lot of talented backs in today's NFL. We all know draft capital is the major factor in today's game even though great players like Austin Ekeler and James Robinson have produced as undrafted free agents. Optimism and a real chance is all we can hope for as Valladay fans, but seeing it happen would be something special.
All of us Br. Rice alumni are rooting for X to be drafted by a team who needs some quality running back depth. The Vikings and Bears have already met with Xazavian, so expect a lot more teams to follow suit and jump on the X train before the draft. Wishing nothing but the best to my fellow Crusader, John McGlynn Left Tackle, Brother Rice class of 1992.