Xavier Legette to the Carolina Panthers? Why former South Carolina WR sees a fit

The Carolina Panthers need explosive players at the wide receiver position. They also hold the No. 33 and No. 39 overall picks in next week’s NFL Draft.

Could it be an ideal landing spot for South Carolina wide receiver Xavier Legette?

Legette, who broke out as a fifth-year senior last season for the Gamecocks, is primarily being projected as a late first round or early second round pick in NFL mock drafts. He said on Thursday that he’s visited with the Panthers “about four times” during the draft process.

Speaking in Greenville, where he was honored as the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame’s college player of the year, Legette was also complimentary of the Panthers as an organization and said his “top 30” visit with them (reserved for a team’s top targets) was a success.

“It’d be good for my family,” Legette, a Mullins, South Carolina native, said ahead of the organization’s induction ceremony at Hotel Hartness. “They’d be close. That’d be the best part about it. Just being able to have them come to the games.”

He added of the Panthers, who enter 2024 with a new coach in Dave Canales and new general manager in Dan Morgan: “I’ve visited with them about four times. ...The top 30 visit went well – I just did it about two weeks ago.”

Legette, 23, joined South Carolina as a three-star recruit in 2019, back when Will Muschamp was the coach. He showed flashes of explosiveness across his first four seasons — whether it was his 2022 kickoff return touchdown against Texas A&M, or his circus catch against Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl — yet he wasn’t on many draft boards entering his fifth year.

But Legette (6-foot-1, 221 pounds) had a breakout senior season, rapidly emerging as the No. 1 target for quarterback Spencer Rattler and putting his name in the Gamecocks record books despite entering the year with just 423 career receiving yards.

In 2023, Legette started all 12 games for USC and led the team in catches (71), receiving yards (1,255) and receiving touchdowns (seven) while seeing his draft stock skyrocket.

He was a bright spot in a season that saw coach Shane Beamer’s program go 5-7 and miss a bowl game for the first time in his tenure. Legette was only the sixth player in South Carolina history to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a season. He averaged 104.6 receiving yards per game (second in the SEC and eighth nationally). He had six games of 100-plus receiving yards, including 217 yards against Jacksonville State, 189 and two touchdowns against Mississippi State and 178 against UNC in the season opener.

A year after setting the school record for kick return average (29.4 yards per return), Legette averaged 21.3 yards per return as a fifth-year senior on 10 attempts. He backed up that speed with a 4.39-second 40-yard dash (tied for sixth best among receivers) at the NFL Combine.

“What I think I could bring to a team is a whole lot,” Legette said. “I feel like I’m dangerous with the ball in my hands. And I could play in any aspect they need me to play for. Special teams, and I could play any (receiver) position on offense as well. I’m like that Swiss Army knife.”

Legette went through a coaching change at South Carolina when the school fired Muschamp in 2020 and replaced him with Beamer. He also easily could’ve hit the transfer portal given his lack of playing time his first four seasons.

But Legette, who grew up about two hours west of Columbia, said he was determined to stick with it and make an impact at an in-state school that took a chance on him after he was, in his own words, “overlooked” as a recruit until his senior year at Mullins High School.

“The biggest thing that I learned in the transition from high school to college was just being able to treat it like a pro,” Legette said. “And I had to learn a lot. I had to sit back and really learn from the older guys who was in front of me and just really learn how to take it like a pro, man. And this last year, it showed.”

Legette, who also participated in the Senior Bowl and had a strong showing at South Carolina’s on-campus pro day last month, is considered a second round prospect, according to

Lance Zierlein, an analyst for the website , wrote that Legette’s “star shines brightest once the ball goes up and he’s able to use his body control, play strength and ball skills to impose his will on the coverage” and called him as “a Day 2 talent with the potential to develop into a starter.”

Outside of the Panthers, another popular landing spot for Legette in mock drafts is the Kansas City Chiefs, who have won two straight Super Bowls and hold the No. 32 overall pick, the last pick of next Thursday’s first round.

“That would be a great opportunity just to play with Patrick Mahomes,” Legette said of possibly joining Kansas City. “It would be a great opportunity. ... I did a top 30 visit with them, and I met with them combine week (in February).”

Legette said he’s planning to watch the draft with a smaller group of about 30 to 40 close friends and family members in his hometown next week and emphasized he was “blessed to be in this position” and will excited to join the league regardless of who drafts him.

“It means a lot to me, just being able to do this thing that I did,” he said. “I just want to help my family do better and just keep continuing to grow. … I have a lot of goals that I want to see through. Just being able to get into the league, only 1% of athletes get in there. And I’m one of them.”

Blanchard-Roberts Trophy winners

Awarded annually since 2013 by the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame to the best collegiate football player in the country with South Carolina ties

How to watch the 2024 NFL Draft

  • Round 1: 8 p.m. Thursday, April 25 (ESPN, ABC and NFL Network)

  • Rounds 2-3: 7 p.m. Friday, April 26 (ESPN, ABC and NFL Network)

  • Rounds 4-7: noon Saturday, April 27 (ESPN, ABC and NFL Network)