NFL Rookie Q&A: Panthers WR Xavier Legette Explains His Love for Horses, Hunting

Carolina’s first-round pick was born and raised in the South, and has the hobbies (and accent) to match.
Legette hauled in 71 receptions for 1,255 yards and seven touchdowns last season at South Carolina.
Legette hauled in 71 receptions for 1,255 yards and seven touchdowns last season at South Carolina. / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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Xavier Legette, the first-round pick of the Carolina Panthers, could have easily laughed at me after I asked him if he owns a quarter of a horse. Instead, the massive new wide receiver for Bryce Young smiled and patiently explained to me that’s a type of horse. 

I wouldn’t have blamed Legette if he ended the interview right there and returned to his activities at the annual NFLPA Rookie Premiere in downtown Los Angeles. But the soft-spoken Legette, who has gotten plenty of attention on social media for his Southern accent, was gracious with his time and provided insight into his new life as a member of the Panthers. Legette’s new home of Charlotte is only a two-hour drive from where he was raised in Mullins, S.C. 

Leggete shared what it's been like to work with Panthers coach Dave Canales, wide receiver Adam Thielen and Young, the top pick in last year’s draft. 

Legette was one of three rookie wide receivers we spoke to at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere. We’ll share those interviews later this week, but let’s start with the big-body wideout from South Carolina, the No. 32 pick in the draft. 

Sports Illustrated: How special has it been to be a member of the Carolina Panthers and be so close to your hometown of Mullins, South Carolina?

Xavier Legette: It’s been great for me. I was able to get back home last Sunday for Mother’s Day, go to church and hang with my people from back home. It’s only about two hours [from home] and it’s an hour away from the University of South Carolina where I went to school. … My family will be there for many home games.

SI: It’s only been a few weeks, but how has it been getting to know your coaches and teammates? Let’s start with the new coach, Dave Canales.

XL: It’s really great. I kind of see him and Coach [Shane] Beamer [of South Carolina] as the same type of coach. They’re both a joy to be around and they’re both competitors as well.

SI: Has he told you how he plans on using you on the field? He worked with Mike Evans in Tampa Bay and DK Metcalf in Seattle. Those receivers have similar skill sets as you as a big-body receiver.  

XL: He tells me he’s going to put the ball in my hands. That’s about all he’s told me right now. He always says I’m a big-body receiver, but he never tries to compare me to DK and Mike Evans.

SI: How would you describe your skill set? Because we’ve seen what you can do with your size on the field. 

XL: I’m big, fast and strong. That’s a lot for a receiver of my size (6'3," 227 pounds). I feel like I can move just as good as any receiver, even the smaller receivers. I can do anything on the field. … Just being able to get them high-point catches and 50/50 balls. I feel like that’s my best trait.

Xavier Legette runs the 40-yard dash at the 2024 NFL combine
Legette ran a 4.39 second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

SI: Which receivers do you like to study?

XL: I really like DK Metcalf. I grew up watching Randy Moss. That’s all I ever wanted to do, go Moss somebody. Mike Evans, guys like that, big-body receivers.

SI: You haven’t been there long, but how has it been working with quarterback Bryce Young?

XL: Worked out with him three times. We’re going to continue building. … I haven’t really been able to pick his brain because they’ve been having us do a lot of that rinky-dink stuff. As we continue to build, I’m going to have some questions for him. … [I like] his arm talent. I feel like his arm talent is good, can place the ball anywhere and that’s good playing in this league.

SI: Have you gotten pointers from veteran receivers and teammates Adam Thielen and Diontae Johnson? 

XL: Just talking to Adam Thielen, him telling me things to look for, the way how the [defensive back] is going to play us. Those are things I need to know coming into this league, so I’m just trying to master those things and get those things right. We get to go against the defense next week, so just to see different looks. I know they’re going to try to throw a lot at me, just because I’m the rookie on the team, so we’re going to see how it plays out. … [Johnson] hasn’t been there yet. Once he comes, I know his releases are crazy, so I’m going to need to be able to use some of that. 

SI: Is there any added pressure playing for the home area team?

XL: It’s not a whole lot of pressure on me because I keep the main thing, the main thing. I just want to play football, so I’m just focused and dialed in.

SI: I saw you have a horse named Dolla Bill. But I’m a little confused because I don’t know what a quarter horse is. I’m not familiar with horses. Could you explain? 

XL: It’s different horses. You got a thoroughbred, the standardbred. We have those as well. We race them horses, but the quarter horses, those are just our walking horses. … Ever since I was a little boy, my uncle, my dad, we were always riding horses and always on the country, on the wildlife side, so that’s how I got into it.

SI: You’ve gotten plenty of attention for your horses and Southern accent. But what else should people know about you? Any other hobbies?

XL: I hunt. Wild hogs, racoons, squirrels and rabbits. … It requires patience, but there’s a little cheat code with the raccoons because we send the dogs out. We train the dogs and we have a GPS on their neck and we can tell where the coons [coonhounds] are and all. With the hogs, we put [food] out there for them and have them keep coming back.

SI: What’s it been like for you to see people react to your Southern ways?

XL: I guess it’s just different. Different for them. They like it, though. I guess I continue to put stuff out there for them. I told them boys in the media, they just ain’t never heard nobody talk from out here. It’s regular for me. … I’m not really big on the attention. I don’t really like all that, but I guess it’s something good.

Gilberto Manzano