MORGANTOWN — Xavier Dye certainly knows how to make a good impression.
Three years ago, Dye was teaching and coaching at a South Carolina high school when he got a call from his old college coach, Dabo Swinney. Swinney remembered Dye’s work ethic as a player and assumed it would translate well to coaching.
The Clemson head coach had an offer Dye very easily could have refused — the role of graduate assistant coach, which comes with a lack of glamor and relatively low pay.
“Coach hired me away from high school and was like ‘It’s gonna be a pay cut,’ ” Dye recalled.
That wasn’t an issue for Dye, who played for the Tigers from 2007-’10.
“I don’t care what the pay is,” Dye told Swinney. “I just want to get to that level and get going.”
Two years and a national championship later, Dye is moving on from being the understudy to Clemson receivers coach Jeff Scott to running the position at West Virginia. Though as Scott points out, on many occasions Dye was already leading a group central to Clemson’s success.
“I gave him a lot of responsibility, especially this past year,” Scott said. “In the meeting room he was really good. Being co-offensive coordinator, there’s times I’d let him run the wide receiver meeting while I was in the staff room.
“He did a great job of communicating. He’s been a high school teacher. Most great coaches are great teachers. Being able to communicate is very important.”
Communication is apparently Dye’s strong suit. He was hired by new West Virginia coach Neal Brown despite never previously interviewing for a full-time coaching job.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking because you didn’t know how good a job you actually did in the interview because it happened so fast,” Dye said. “I talked to them Monday, and Tuesday I was here for the interview.”
Dye didn’t eat many meals as he waited to hear back from Brown. He also assumed the worst.
“I was preparing myself for getting a job later down the road,” Dye said. “But I guess I did a decent enough job [interviewing] to get it.”
Scott has little doubt that his former pupil is ready for his full-time debut.
“It was obvious after his first couple months that it wouldn’t be long before someone came calling,” Scott said.
Scott, a former Clemson GA himself, said Dye was one of the best graduate assistants of Swinney’s tenure.
“You look for someone that’s mature, especially in this day when you have to monitor players while the staff is off recruiting,” Scott said. “Being able to find that in a young person sometimes can be difficult. Xavier’s been one of the best we’ve had in 10 years at Clemson.”
For Dye, the biggest difference in his elevated role — other than paycheck size — is that he will be out on the road as a recruiter. That aspect excites him greatly.
“I’m excited because it’s my first time out on the road,” Dye said. “That’s who I am. I’m a people person. I don’t really meet a stranger. I enjoy it. People are people. I’ve worked at a car dealership, so I can talk about anybody.”
Scott said that Dye already showed some of his chops as a recruiter, albeit from the confines of Clemson’s campus as he texted recruits or met their families on visits.
“His main interaction was when they got on campus, but he was able to develop relationships very quickly,” Scott said.
Though he ventured away from Clemson, Dye hopes to apply what he learned from one of the nation’s most successful programs to West Virginia.
“The culture is the main thing,” Dye said. “If you have great culture and the guys buy in to what coach Brown believes in, then those guys will do whatever you ask. If those guys are on the same page and speaking the same language, there’s not many issues you’ll have.”