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X-Factor: Xavier Carlton’s legacy of greatness

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SEPTEMBER 23, 2022

Xavier Carlton — X-factor, always destined to be a football player. 

It just runs in his blood. 

His father, Demetrius Carlton, played college football at the University of Utah, and he credits him for having inspired him to want to step out onto the gridiron in the first place. The Carltons have created a rich legacy of football players in their family, and it’s thanks to this that the younger Carlton has always looked up to his father. 

“My dad influenced me because he played college football as well. He taught me life as a football player, and how to enjoy the moment. He put me into football and ever since then I fell in love with it.” the younger Carlton said.

Carlton played highschool football in two places; for three years at Modesto Christian High School in California, before moving for his senior season at Juan Diego Catholic High School in Utah. Throughout his four years he would post monster numbers serving as both a defensive and offensive threat. 

His work at defensive end and tight end would serve pivotal in his goal to play at the next level. 

Carlton was a four-star rated recruit out of Juan Diego Catholic, a rating which earned him offers from 30 schools across the country, which included all schools within the Pac-12. There was no shortage of options for the highly coveted player out of Draper, Utah. 

“It was a humble experience, out of high school I knew I had enough talent to play at the next level. The whole summer of my sophomore year (in high school) I just worked hard everyday. … Then of course we went to San Antonio, that was my showcase of what I could really do, and ever since then I did well. I did well at all three camps but it kept me hungry. I wanted more,” he said.

Carlton first took his playing career to the University of Utah, following in his father’s footsteps but after two seasons, he decided it was time to take his talent someplace else. 

The someplace being Berkeley, California. 

Being one of his 30 different options from his recruiting days, Cal head coach Justin Wilcox had nothing but praise for the freshly transferred star at the beginning of spring camp. 

“We know Xavier very well from his recruitment out of high school. He is an impressive person and player who is a good fit for our defense. He has Pac-12 experience and knows what it takes to win at this level.” Wilcox said in a Cal Athletics press release. 

A good fit indeed. 

Carlton has been outspoken on the Cal defense through the first three games of the season, playing twice off the bench and one start. With two and a half sacks and eight total tackles, he is setting the tone for how the defense should produce throughout the season. 

However, he finds himself humbled when you read his statline to him, wanting to continue to better his craft and constantly working towards being better.

“It’s not enough – two half, three sacks and six tackles for me is not enough. I got to produce, I got to give more, that’s why you see me on this practice field giving 110% every day.” he said.

His mother, Lorraine Carlton, echoes this sentiment, describing him as having a very strong and powerful work ethic.

“Xavier is an extremely hard working young man. From a very young age, he challenged himself to be great, never giving up and pushing through any adversity that comes his way. He does whatever it takes to be great at whatever he does. Whether it be in the classroom or on the field.” she said.

For Carlton, his family are his biggest supporters. He says he would be able to hear his mother cheering for him in a sea of 70,000 people. 

“Both my parents and my little brother call me every game,” he said.

These phone calls are a fixture of his game-day routine that helps him lock in and focus for the task ahead. He credits his parents for being the reason he is able to continue playing the sport he loves, due to their everlasting support the effort that they have put into raising him.

“I thank my parents for investing every inch of their time into me. My mom and dad are my heroes. Everytime I’m out on this field I’m representing the Carlton name.” he said.

Family is a very big part of Carlton’s life both on the field and off it: His family has supported him constantly through his formative years and now his college career. 

“My dad, though, I’ve looked up to him and his work ethic all these years, how he put so much time into me — that’s what I want to do after football: I want to give back to my little brother and to the younger generation, and give them my perspective on what life is like.” he said.

Carlton couldn’t help but smile when talking about his bond with his younger brother, Myles. This bond is another piece of Carlton’s life that inspires him to be a great athlete but an even better person. He recalls working out in the summers with his brother, just as Carlton had done with his father, striving to be better and continue bettering themselves together. 

When Carlton announced his commitment to play for Cal last January, he did so by posting a photo of both himself and his brother in a Cal uniform. 

But Carlton isn’t just at Cal to be a football star, he prides himself in being a scholar, and being eager in the classroom. He is a media studies major, and he has an intended concentration in broadcasting. 

When his playing days come to a close, he wants to follow a career in sports broadcasting, with his eyes set on being a part of college gameday on Saturdays giving a whole lot of love to “his Bears”. 

Separately from being a major sports enthusiast, Carlton just enjoys being able to hang out with his teammates away from the field. He enjoys the bond that they have built on the field, and enjoys playing video games and studying their craft together. This bond allows for Carlton to be a better version of himself; he feeds off of the excitement they create in the locker room, on the practice field and on game day.

“I love playing with my brothers, I love rushing, I love hitting with them, it’s always exciting to make a play, but it’s also exciting when they make a play. That’s what I love, that’s what I feed off of,” Carlton said.

Carlton is also the resident poet of the team, citing iconic rapper Tupac Shakur as his inspiration to do so, while also being his favorite artist, and go-to during game day preparations. 

“I write poetry, hang out with my teammates — of course, I’m a scholar, I love learning, I really just like to learn about life.”

“Xavier has always been an old soul as they say. He uses poetry on a daily basis as his outlet, a way to express how he is feeling and to see things more clearly. It’s his way to meditate and show those around him how much he loves him. Poetry is a window into his soul. He’s been known to share his poetry with those he loves. It gives people a glimpse into who Xavier is and what type of person he is.” said his mother.  

Each and every time he steps out onto the football field, Carlton strives for greatness, he writes his poetry about greatness, he wishes to show the world just how high of a caliber player he is. 

He lists his father, Kobe Bryant, Ray Lewis, Lawrence Taylor and even freshly drafted Kayvon Thibodeaux and people he looks up to, how their strive for greatness sparks a fire within himself to put 110 percent every moment he gets to put on his shoulder pads and helmet.

“I wanted more. I didn’t want to be the best, I wanted to be the greatest,” Carlton said.

His passion for the sport allows for him to feed off of every aspect of the game. He describes one of his most gratifying moments in football up to this point as just listening to the roar of the crowd. Joking that this answer might be a little cliche, he describes the energy that he is able to feed off while he is out on the field.

“Honestly the best experience for me all these years was just — maybe every football player would say this — but listening to the crowd. Of course, the crowd could be your best critic or your worst critic, and I always fed off the haters. ” 

It isn’t an understatement to say that Carlton is in love with football; it’s been his outlet for growth and learning since he was a child. He says that he loves football because it’s the closest you can get to being in a video game; that is, until his dream of being in a future Madden or NCAA football game comes true. 

“Everytime playing NCAA, I was like, ‘Oh yeah I’ve got to do this, I got to get there,’ ” said Carlton.

All this experience that he’s gained, he wishes to pass down to the younger generations, something that his mother says he has already done. She describes him as a role model for the little league teams his father has coached.

“The young men and women love him, they idolize him and can’t wait to see and show Coach “X” what they’re all about,” said Carlton’s father. “He speaks to these kids about the importance of school and hard work, what it takes to be great in every facet of their lives. When he comes back into town, he visits the kids and they are so excited and listen to every word.”

Carlton is continuing to strive for greatness each and every day, he does so not only to make himself proud, but to make his supporters proud. He takes the experiences and applies them to all facets of life, continuing to show the world how much he’s worked to get where he is. 

“My son is a great young man, and his dad and I are beyond proud of him and who he is and the young man he continues to be,” Carlton’s mother said.

Contact Emmanuel Macedo at 


OCTOBER 23, 2022