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Symbol of hope? Tattooed Xavier Weaver wants to be part of USF’s turnaround

The junior receiver doesn’t have to look far for inspiration. It’s inscribed all over his body.
USF receiver Xavier Weaver, pictured during spring practice in March in Tampa, has emerged as a go-to guy for the Bulls.
USF receiver Xavier Weaver, pictured during spring practice in March in Tampa, has emerged as a go-to guy for the Bulls. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Sep. 17, 2021

TAMPA — Xavier Weaver points to his left shin and says, “This is the banker from Monopoly.”

It’s the cartoon dude with the handlebar mustache in the tuxedo, tipping his top hat and running: a tattoo the size of a tea saucer.

“He’s money,” the USF junior receiver explains, grinning with what you might call a perfect, and perfectly bright, smile. “I like to be money in every sense of the word.”

Below the Monopoly banker is a saying in fancy script that stretches down to Weaver’s ankle: “Never be ashamed of what you’ve been through. God will use your story for his glory.”

Woven in and around the words are a gorilla — “because he’s like the king of the jungle,” Weaver said — a shining light and angel “that represents my little sister who died at birth,” and the names of his parents, Nadine and Sean, who played four seasons with the San Diego Chargers.

On his left arm is another maxim, “I hope for the best knowing the worst is yet to come. That’s what makes me stronger,” along with, “Don’t wish, just do it,” and some other images.

You are drawn to the artwork, because it is interesting.

Much like Xavier Weaver.

“You can express yourself with tattoos,” Weaver said with his smile and confident eye contact. “I like to be expressive. I can also look at (the tattoos) and be reminded of things that inspire — and they are always right there.”

Weaver, a junior, says it’s all part of keeping a positive attitude and being appreciative.

“I am so grateful to have this opportunity to be here in college and to be playing football,” said Weaver, the first player from Orlando Christian Prep to sign with a Division I-A school. “I know our team has gone through some struggles the past couple of years, but there is honestly no other place I’d rather be.

“Our community is still so positive and so together that it really is amazing. It might take a little time, but it’s going to happen. We are going to turn this thing around, and I want to be part of that.”

It hasn’t happened yet in 2021, as the Bulls lost 45-0 to North Carolina State and 42-20 to Florida. But Weaver, at least, has provided some plays for the highlight reels, including two 44-yard receptions, a 45-yard punt return against Florida and a 50-yard throw on a double-pass that tipped off the fingers of his roommate, Kelly Joiner, (a play that almost assuredly would have gone for a 73-yard touchdown).

“I’ve played a little quarterback growing up,” Weaver said. “So yeah, I can throw it a little bit.”

Heading into Saturday’s game against Florida A&M (1-1), Weaver ranks third on the team in pass receptions with four but first in yards with 141.

Big play Weaver? “I like to make the big play, but that’s not how I think about it. I just do my job, and if that leads to a big play, then that’s great.”

USF coach Jeff Scott said Weaver has emerged as a go-to guy, a development that doesn’t surprise him.

“He did such a great job in the spring, that I expected him to play well this season,” Scott said. “We put him back there as a punt returner and so far that has worked out really well. He’s a weapon, and he has made the most of his opportunities. Moving forward, we expect big things from him.”

Big things that could inspire more tattoos.

“I’ve saved some space (on his right side) for later,” Weaver said. “For more good things that will happen.”

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