116 3rd St SE
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AMES — Over the last three weeks, Iowa State receiver Xavier Hutchinson has compared himself to NBA superstar Steph Curry while also channeling his “inner Tom Brady.”
Confidence isn’t something Hutchinson lacks and it’s why he’s able to produce week in and week out for the Cyclones.
“I would say his confidence is consistent,” ISU football coach Matt Campbell said. “I think we play a sport that is really challenging because you're dealing with 18- to 22-year-olds, and I think that word confidence is — it’s really easy to say that word and I think sometimes we look at football players and say, ‘Man, they’ve just got so much confidence.’ And I would say, ‘Do they really?’ And I think in our sport, it's hard. It's challenging. It's a mental grind as much as it is a physical grind.
“I think the one thing that I would say about Xavier is boy, he's a confident football player. He's as confident as maybe what we have in our program to be honest with you, and he's earned that.”
Hutchinson leads the Big 12 with 60 receptions. He also has 686 yards and five touchdowns.
It was after the Cyclones’ win over Oklahoma State on Oct. 23 when Hutchinson compared himself to Curry. Hutchinson caught 12 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns. He also drew multiple pass-interference penalties on Cowboy defenders. When ISU quarterback Brock Purdy was asked about Hutchinson comparing himself to Curry, he initially laughed. But as he thought about how dominantly Hutchinson played, he came around to the analogy.
“Yeah, 100 percent,” Purdy said after that game. “You could see it, feel it. He was getting all of this separation, he was making plays after the catch. He brought the juice and everybody just fed off of it. As a teammate, that’s the kind of guy you want to play with. It was awesome.”
Two weeks later, against Texas, Iowa State ran a trick play where Hutchinson, who claimed to be a former quarterback his freshman and sophomore years in high school, was asked to throw the ball. He succeeded in throwing a 49-yard touchdown pass to Tarique Milton, but the throw itself wasn’t exactly the prettiest toss in the world.
“You know what? They believe in me and it’s time to bring out my inner Tom Brady and throw a dime,” Hutchinson said after the game. “It didn’t quite work out like that, but I still like to think it.”
Campbell joked that now we all know why Hutchinson was moved to receiver.
“The result of the play I’d give an A but the execution and technique — the way he got the ball there — It was probably like a C+,” Purdy said.
Purdy also joked that he and Hutchinson would be in competition to see who gets to be the quarterback for the first drive against Texas Tech this week.
“He said he was a quarterback growing up and told him, ‘Sheesh, if I was one of your receivers my hands would be hurting from that wobbly ball you throw,’” Purdy said with a laugh.
Hutchinson was quick to bring up his stat line and passer rating, which is 841.6.
“Last time I checked, I’m 1-for-1 for 49 yards and a touchdown,” Hutchinson said. “I’m pretty sure I have the best passer rating ever.”
It's a passer rating not even Brady could hope to achieve.
But even when something doesn’t go his way, Hutchinson has the confidence to bounce back. In that Oklahoma State game, he was called for a head-scratching taunting penalty as he was running into the end zone.
Instead of letting it get to him, Hutchinson caught the next three passes and scored a touchdown.
“I think ‘X’ is one of those guys who’s worked for everything that he's achieved,” Campbell said. “I think he feels really confident that even if something bad happens in a game to him or in the situation, he can go back, he can get himself back in the moment because he does have great confidence in what he does and how he's prepared to do what he does.
“The word for me with ‘X’ is confidence, and I think he's got it as good as anybody in our program.”
Hutchinson has made lighthearted comparisons to some of the greatest athletes alive. But taking a step back and peeling away the joking nature in which he said those things, Hutchinson’s own confidence in himself inspires coaches to have confidence in him, too.
“I think for us is anytime that we can find a way to get the ball in his hand and let him do whatever it is — if he's gonna run it, if he’s gonna catch it, if he’s gonna throw it, boy, we feel like he’s going to succeed,” Campbell said. “You've heard me talk about this a lot — players, formations, plays. That’s one of our key football players. And I think he's earned the right for us to have elite confidence (in him) no matter what we're asking him to do.”