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Post A tale of two quarterbacks

Monday July 28, 2008

Play Rodney Garner for a second and tell me which quarterback you’d recruit.

Quarterback A:

11 games starting as a HS junior. Completed 117-of-189 (61.9%). 1,333 yards passing (121 YPG). Threw 10 TD against 9 INT.

Quarterback B:

Rated the #9 QB in the nation and #1 in Georgia by Rivals.com. Offers from Georgia, FSU, and Boston College. Invited to the Elite 11 QB camp.

Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? But if you follow recruiting, you probably know that these two blurbs describe the same quarterback. Zach Mettenberger, senior QB at Oconee County, is a walking illustration of potential. At a solid 6’5", he looks the part of a prototypical NFL drop-back passer. He’s wowed coaches at camps with his measurables, and he had an offer from FSU before his junior season even started.

ESPN’s report from the Elite 11 camp observes the same arm strength and intelligence that put Mettenberger on the recruiting radar, notes a lack of speed, and becomes the latest to apply the upside/potential label that can be as much of a curse as it is a compliment.

Mettenberger has a cannon and he has been well coached. He understands the game, knows where to go with the ball and plays with confidence. He has one of the bigger personalities in the group and seems to really enjoy the game.

Mettenberger is a pure drop-back guy. He will need to play in a system that can give him ample protection because he’s not super mobile in the pocket. Saying that, his upside is high and he has a chance to surprise at the next level.

That potential and the made-to-order size and arm strength have been slow to translate into success during games. Next to future Georgia teammate Aaron Murray’s gaudy junior numbers (4,013 yards, 51 TD, 7 INT), Mettenberger’s career numbers hardly register. I admit it can seem a bit incongruous that a quarterback entering his senior season with just over 2,000 career passing yards to his credit is at the same time emerging as a consensus national top 10 prospect at his position.

Some of that disparity might be attributed to coaching and scheme. Last year’s plan to "tweak" an option offense to make better use of Mettenberger met with lukewarm success. Oconee County now has its third coach in four years, and the most recent change brought in a coach from California who is expected to open up the passing game for Mettenberger. The new scheme might suit him better, but can the quarterback and his team succeed with yet another new system thrown at them?

Though college coaches are interested much more in potential than in meaningless high school stats, it will be worth watching this fall to see if Mettenberger’s productivity on the field begins to back up the summer hype and attention from the recruiting services. If he continues to grow into his 6’5" frame and thrives in Oconee’s new offense, the sky is the limit in Watkinsville as well as in Athens.

One Response to 'A tale of two quarterbacks'

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  • First off, I love our backup qb’s. They bust their
    @$$e$ and rarely complain about PT. BUT, ZM and AM are both HUGE talents. I feel an almost certain transfer-mid-sophomore-season coming on…