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Who is Xavier Worthy, the college football player compared to Usain Bolt?

After breaking the 40-yard dash record on 2 March, Worthy hopes his speed and college stats will see him through into the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

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In an interview with The Athletic last September, University of Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy said “I feel like y’all haven’t seen the best of me yet.” Six months later, he became the fastest man and a record-breaker at the National Invitational Camp (NIC), also known as the NFL Scouting Combine.

The annual, week-long event sees college hopefuls put through their paces in front of NFL coaches, managers and scouts.

The 20-year-old originally ran 4.25 seconds on his first attempt at the 40-yard dash (36.5 metres). On his second attempt, he ran 4.21 seconds and broke the previous record of 4.22 seconds held by John Ross in 2017. 

“I watched the Combine my whole life as a kid since John Ross ran it,” Worthy said in an NFL broadcast. “I never thought I would be on the stage to do that.” 

Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt, widely regarded as the greatest sprinter of all time, ran 4.22 seconds at the NFL Experiences Festival in 2019, prompting immediate comparisons. However, Worthy modestly rejected any similarity between himself at the track and field icon. 

“His 40 was in shoes and sweats,” Worthy told NBC. “There’s no comparison. I’m not even gonna disrespect him.” A subsequent analysis by Runner’s World estimated that in his prime Bolt could have run the same distance in 3.6 seconds.

How will Xavier Worthy fare in the NFL 2024 draft?

Born in Fresno, California, on 27 April 2003, Worthy is currently in his junior year at the University of Texas. 

The player has already made his mark at the college level. During a game against rivals Oklahoma, Worthy set a new record for the most receiving yards in a single game by a freshman wide receiver, receiving 261 yards. In his freshman season, he had a total of 981 yards – another record. Pro Football Focus, 247 Sports, and the Football Writers Association of America gave him the accolade of “true freshman all-American.” 

The 2024 NFL Draft is scheduled for 25-27 April in Detroit and Worthy is a likely first-round selection. The NFL Draft Network picked the Kansas City Chiefs – the reigning Super Bowl champions – along with the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys as suitable teams for Worthy to join.  

“In a perfect world, I definitely would want to go to the Chiefs,” Worthy told USA Today. “Just the way Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs improvise and use you. They had Tyreek Hill. The way they used him, I feel like that would be a perfect fit for me.”

What is the NFL Scouting Combine? 

The NFL Scouting Combine is where college seniors are evaluated by NFL scouts on a four-day test of their physical and mental fitness. The tests were first introduced in 1976, when the New York Jets invited college athletes to perform a few drills and interviews. 

In 1982, the Indianapolis-based National Football Scouting (NFS) held the first National Invitational Camp (NIC) in Tampa, Florida. The event featured 163 top college players. There were other camps too, which eventually emerged with the NFS event. 

Today, the NFL Scouting Combine is held every February at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. “We try to let the talent pool dictate how many guys we have at each position,” Jeff Foster, who has led NIC and been the president of the NFS since 2005, said in an interview with Sports Illustrated in 2018. “We understand and look at the averages of how many guys are drafted at each position.”

After watching Xavier Worthy snatch the 40-yard dash record at the 2024 Combine and celebrate with the fans – who were not allowed in the stadium until 2014 –  American sports commentator Rich Eisen said that it was “the coolest Combine moment I have ever been a part of.” 

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