He has 11 Division I passes to his name, yet he’ll be reliably throwing 25 times that this year.
His arm has only been tested in mop-up duty against Northwestern State, yet he will face the SEC gauntlet with ease.
He slipped up off the field during his last push for an SEC starting job, yet he will have the poise to handle a national title run and the spotlight that comes with it.
Zach Mettenberger’s prior achievements amount to little more than nuttenberger, yet he has been heralded as the savior — the Mettsiah — for an LSU team in need of a steady quarterback.
It’s a fantastic nickname and one that he may well earn as the Tigers’ starter, but the hype around him has far outpaced what he has done to this point.
A four-star recruit (rated the No. 11 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com), he signed with Georgia, redshirted one season and then battled Aaron Murray for the 2010 starting job.
He might have won it, if not for an arrest that got him kicked off the team and culminated with a guilty plea to two misdemeanor counts of sexual battery.
From there, a big year at Butler Community College in Kansas landed him a spot at LSU, where he rode the bench in 2011, threw those 11 passes and had a good-but-not-great spring game in April: 14-of-25 for 270 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Cue the hype machine.
His strong arm has created lots of buzz and an excitement that the Tigers can be a down-field threat this year. Les Miles has fanned the flames, even choosing Mettenberger to represent LSU at SEC Media Days despite his zero starts.
To his credit, Mettenberger seems to have learned from his mistake at UGA, he handled the media spotlight like a pro, and it’s hard to find anyone with a bad word to say about him. LSU receiver Odell Beckham called him “a first-rounder,” and even UGA wideout Tavarres King raved about “Mett” at Media Days.
But let’s wait a while before we anoint him.
First, as he said himself, he doesn’t need to be Superman this year, just a game manager who can make a big play once in a while to keep defenses honest.
With that in mind, it’s worth wondering whether some of the hype is being manufactured by the Tigers, who clearly have an interest in making opponents think they’ve got a deep-ball threat.
Besides, if he’s so much better than Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee, why didn’t he play last year?
None of this is to blame Mettenberger. He recovered from his mistake and has done well with his opportunities, which is all he can do.
But the expectations are a bit out of control, and there’s still a chance he ends up like John Brantley at Florida: a heavily hyped flop.
Mettenberger was promising at Georgia, but he blew it. He was great in junior college, but it was junior college. His script at LSU has yet to be written, and while it may turn out to be a blockbuster, let’s let it play out a little before we send it off to Hollywood.