Most people know Zach Mettenberger as the quarterback at LSU, but he actually began his college career at Georgia, where his mother is an administrative assistant for head coach Mark Richt. Mettenberger graduated from high school early and enrolled at Georgia for the spring semester in January 2009 to take some classes and also participate in spring practice.
He didn't play in any games at Georgia that year, and at the end of spring practice in 2010 he transferred to Butler Community College in Kansas after some off-the-field issues. That move opened the door for a quarterback named Aaron Murray, who was just starting out at Georgia after redshirting in 2009. Murray went on to be the Bulldogs' starting quarterback the next four seasons.
(Pretty amazing that Georgia had two freshman quarterbacks in the same year who both are now on their way to being drafted by an NFL team.)
Mettenberger played very well that season at Butler, where he threw for 32 touchdowns to only four interceptions and was rated the best JC quarterback prospect in the nation before transferring to LSU. He played in five games in 2011 but did not start, then started 13 games in 2012. Going into the 2013 season, he was ranked the 14th-best senior quarterback by NFL scouts as well as Phil Steele.
In the spring of 2013, LSU hired a new offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron, who I think is one of the best quarterback coaches in football, regardless of whether it's in college or the NFL. I was lucky enough to be on the sideline at LSU in its opening game last season against TCU, and during pregame warmups, Cameron came over to me and pointed to Mettenberger and said, "This guy is going to be special."
As it turned out, Cameron was right.
Mettenberger always had the tools to be a big-time college quarterback. He has good size at 6-foot-5, 224 pounds, with 10-inch hands and a strong arm. He's smart, accurate and can make all the throws. But he never really put it all together until he started working with Cameron last spring. Mettenberger was having a great senior season until he was injured in the last game of the season, tearing his ACL against Arkansas. But he made big strides in his game, including a 10-percent improvement in his completion percentage, which was up to 64.9 percent last year.
Before Cameron's arrival, Mettenberger might have been a seventh-round pick. Now, if he's healthy, I believe he could go as high as the second round based on his performance as a senior.
At his pro day, where he is expected to throw for scouts, I want to know if we're going to see the Mettenberger who was tutored by Cameron, or whether he's fallen back. I'll be looking to see if his knee injury has hurt his movement and will stunt his ability to avoid rushers.
Mettenberger's workout might be the most important of the week, but there are a handful of others on a relatively light week of pro days. Here's a quick rundown of the week's events.
Alabama (Tuesday): Offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio was not medically ready to work out at the Crimson Tide's pro day last month. This will be the school's second pro day, and I want to check to see how he's progressed and hopefully put him through a workout. I also want to retime him in speed drills.
Penn State (Tuesday): I want to retime wide receiver Allen Robinson, who ran 4.60 in the 40-yard dash at the combine. I also want to check out defensive tackle DaQuan Jones in drills.
LSU (Wednesday): Aside from watching Mettenberger's workout, I also need to learn more about Jeremy Hill, who has had off-field issues in the past but could be one of the first running backs drafted.
Bloomsburg (Thursday): Is Larry Webster's best position as a pass-rushing defensive end, or can he be a pass-catching tight end in the NFL?
Tulane (Friday): I want to retime wide receiver Ryan Grant, whose 6.68-second three-cone drill was one of the fastest at the NFL Scouting Combine.