As Xavier Arline put it, kids on Long Island are born with a lacrosse stick in their hands.
That holds true in a community like Shoreham-Wading River where the boys and girls lacrosse programs have grown into perennial powers. As Arline burst onto the scene playing varsity lacrosse for the Wildcats in eighth grade, it was immediately clear he had the potential to eventually play in college. So much so, he committed to the University of North Carolina as an eighth grader.
For all his success in lacrosse, it was always football that was his true love. So as the years passed and the time came to finally sign with UNC, Arline hesitated.
“Carolina wanted me to sign and I really fell in love with football and never thought I could give this sport up,” he said. “This is my dream and I want to explore it.”
In December, the senior made the difficult decision to withdraw his commitment to UNC and open his recruitment back up with a focus on football and lacrosse.
Schools from all over quickly expressed interest in the dynamic quarterback who led the Wildcats to the Class IV Long Island title this past fall.
“It was tough because now you’re like, ‘What do I want?’ I have so many different options now. It was like the recruiting process all over again. It was crazy. My phone was blowing up and getting a lot of text messages and phone calls. Figuring out what’s important to me and my future really helped narrow it down at the end of the day.”
On Friday afternoon, Arline announced he would play for Navy. He had narrowed the contenders to Army and Air Force after also considering the University of Virginia.
A key for Arline was the opportunity to play quarterback, where he excelled for the Wildcats. Some schools recruited him to play as a slot receiver or defensive back for football.
At Navy, he found a team with an offense well suited for his style of play. Known more as a runner than a passer, Arline will have the chance to play in a triple option offense where his athleticism can shine.
Last season, the Navy offense rushed for 4,687 yards while passing for 1,238. The Midshipmen rushed for 52 touchdowns while scoring 10 through the air.
Arline ended his high school football career with one of the greatest individual performances in the history of the Long Island championships. He accounted for 357 all-purpose yards, running for four touchdowns and passing for two more. He also had an interception in a 49-7 win over Seaford.
“The last football game I played this last fall, tears were running down my face and just pure joy and appreciation for everything that’s come my way and everything I’ve been blessed with,” he said.
Arline said the lacrosse coach for Navy was excited to have him as part of their program as well. Arline will likely pursue both sports, but his main focus will be on football, he said.
“I see myself being able to balance things eventually and hop back into lacrosse,” he said.
The Naval Academy provides full scholarships to all students, who are then committed to five years of active duty service upon graduation. Arline said the Academy is a great opportunity to prepare for life beyond athletics.
The past few nights leading up to his decision, Arline said he barely slept.
“All of them were so special in their own way,” he said.
The Naval Academy, and downtown Annapolis, felt like home, he said.
Arline said he knows it’ll be a big jump going from Division IV football in Suffolk County to playing in the American Athletic Conference. Navy opens next season against Notre Dame in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic in Ireland.
“It’s big, but this is the dream I wanted,” he said.
In the meantime, there’s still one season left at SWR. Arline will lead a stacked Wildcats lacrosse team this spring on the lacrosse field after they won the Class C state championship a year ago. The season officially begins next month.
He’s been busy this winter training, lifting weights and working on his speed. He spends four days a week at Revolution Athletics in Bohemia training, he said.
It’ll soon be lacrosse season, but football won’t be far from his mind.
“It’s always been my favorite sport and closest to my heart,” he said.