Thursday, November 4, 2010
Zach Mettenberger back on track
By Jamie Newberg ESPN Recruiting
Zach Mettenberger is just trying to make the most of a second chance.
Last spring, Mettenberger was battling Aaron Murray and Logan Gray for the starting QB job at Georgia. But in mid-April, he was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules. So instead of leading the Bulldogs, he was trying to figure out whether to transfer to another FBS program and sit out a year, or go to a FCS or junior college and play right away to work his way back.
Zach Mettenberger says he's open to all offers, but right now his finalists are LSU and Texas A&M.
He decided on the latter and packed his things for El Dorado, Kansas, and Butler Community College, one of the top junior college programs in the country.
"The Butler coaches called me. I felt stuck but thought a lot about it," Mettenberger said. "I didn't know if I wanted to play right away or transfer. Then decided I wanted to play right away and it has worked out."
That's an understatement. Mettenberger has thrown for over 1,900 yards and has 24 TDs with just three interceptions. Just as importantly, Butler is 9-0 and ranked No. 1 in the nation.
But still, it's different to say the least.
"Kansas is everything you can imagine. It's flat and there is not much to do," Mettenberger said. "Going from UGA and 100,000 fans to come here and play in front of 6,000 is a step down. But it's totally worth it. I stay out of limelight and remain low key. Everything has worked out well. I am a better player and a better person.
"This has been humbling. It makes you realize how quickly it can all go away. I have gotten a lot better because of it."
Mettenberger is hoping to follow the path of Cameron Newton, who had some problems at Florida, attended Blinn College in Texas last year, signed with Auburn and is now the Heisman frontrunner and has the Tigers undefeated and in the mix for the national championship.
"Cam has done a great job at Auburn and I definitely think I can go somewhere and do great things like he has," Mettenberger said. "I want to make a name for myself. He has put Auburn on the map pretty quickly and I want to do that."
Mettenberger will get his chance and it could even be for one of Auburn's main rivals in the SEC West, LSU.
"Les Miles called me about six weeks ago and we have been talking every week," Mettenberger said, who will have three years to play three at his next destination. "They were one of the first team on me and LSU is a great program. I like the coaches, the offense and it's LSU.
"Without a doubt I would love to be back in the SEC. It's the best conference in college football and I really would like to play in that league."
Texas A&M is also on his short list and he visited College Station for an official visit last weekend.
"It was a fun and good experience and I saw what it was like. I met a lot of new people and saw Aggie Land. I like that A&M has a pro style offense and they sling it around a lot," he said. "They will turn it around and I believe that they are a year or two away from contending for national championship. They will once again be a big name in the Big 12."
While the Tigers and Aggies lead for his services, there's a late entry in the mix as Alabama offered a scholarship recently.
"It means a lot to have coach [Nick] Saban call me and offer me. They don't offer scrubs and they just won the national title," Mettenberger said. "I had no idea it was coming. But they have depth with quarterbacks like [A.J.] McCarron and [Philip] Ely is coming in. I am not real sure what to think about it."
First things first. Mettenberger wants to make his contribution to the Butler program and keep on winning. He will visit LSU later this month (November 20th) and hopes to make his decision after the Junior College national championship in early December.
"Right now it's LSU or A&M. I have narrowed down to two. If someone else comes in I will consider it but right now it's those two schools," he said. "I am doing things differently now. Don't promise me the world. I just want the opportunity.
"Georgia was a sticky situation and there was some trouble there. I have to rebuild opinions and stay low key. I am not proud of what I did. I just needed a fresh start somewhere else. This time next season I want to make some noise."
Changes for Clowney?
Five-star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe), who's No. 1 in the ESPNU 150, has long been favoring home-state South Carolina and national champion Alabama. However, a recent report had Clowney altering his school favorites, dropping LSU and adding Miami. Was there any truth to this?
"I'm not sure about that but I do know Clowney gets on Facebook and plays with people all the time," said South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll. "It's still South Carolina and Alabama but I also think he really likes Ohio State, Florida State and if I had to pick one more I would say LSU. I believe with my heart and soul that those are his top five schools."
Is it possible weather will play a big factor in his decision? It was cold at Wednesday's practice and Clowney didn't like it one bit.
"No he didn't. It was 48 degrees and Clowney hated it," Carroll said. "Say what you want but weather might have some influence in his decision. I think if teams are winning will too. Then again, how could you not like a program like Ohio State? They were here [Tuesday] and came by practice. How can you not like any of those teams? He's going to have a hard decision."
LSU has a big weekend of visitors lined up, including the trio from West Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer in tight end Nick O'Leary, quarterback Jacoby Brissett and linebacker Curt Maggitt.
Also scheduled to visit LSU is Lake City (Fla.) Columbia defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. Jernigan, who visited USC last weekend and Michigan earlier this fall, has also set up a visit to Alabama, according to his coach Craig Howard. But Howard was unsure of visit date to Tuscaloosa. Athlete Kris Frost (Matthews, N.C./Butler) is also expected to visit LSU this weekend.
Florida State will entertain former Notre Dame commitments in defensive end Aaron Lynch (Cape Coral, Fla./ Island Coast) and offensive tackle Jordan Prestwood (Plant City, Fla.), while South Carolina will host a pair of teammates from Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern in tight end Rory Anderson and linebacker Marcquis Roberts. Linebacker Travis Hughes (Virginia Beach, Va./Kempsville) is scheduled to visit Clemson, while Vanderbilt will host Hakeeme Ishmar (Dade City, Fla./ Pacso) and Anthony Harrell (Tampa, Fla./Freedom). Andre Wiggins (San Antonio, Texas/ Madison) will visit Wake Forest.
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at email@example.com.