Canadian receiver John Metchie III burst onto the NCAA football scene on Saturday.
University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban knew Metchie III had the potential to make an impact in the uber-talented Southeastern Conference.
“We’ve always thought Johnathan is a real threat,” Saban said post-game.
The Brampton, Ont. native scored his first and second career touchdowns for the Crimson Tide, catching five passes for 181 yards in a 52-24 victory against No. 13 ranked Texas A&M University. Alabama entered the top-15 matchup No. 2 in the country, led on offence by junior quarterback Mac Jones.
“The first touchdown — third and long — Metchie had the big post. He made a good play and finished the play and scored in the end zone, which he’s supposed to do,” Jones said.
“He played really well and he’s going to continue to play well because he works really hard in practice. We have that chemistry that’s built up from years past.”
Jones and Metchie III developed a rapport while working behind NFL draft picks. Tua Tagovailoa was the starting quarterback last year before suffering a season-ending hip injury. Jones started four games in his absence, including a 35-16 win in the Citrus Bowl over Michigan.
Metchie III played in 13 games behind 2020 NFL first-round selections Henry Ruggs III (Raiders, 12th overall) and Jerry Jeudy (Broncos, 15th overall). Jeudy won a National Championship while being selected as a consensus All-American during his time in Tuscaloosa. Ruggs was a speedster running a 4.27 40-yard time at the NFL combine. Those two leaving left lots of targets for Metchie III to earn.
“He got the opportunities today. He had one other one that we overthrew that would have been another big play. Very capable guy, he’s worked very hard, and this is something that is going to really help his confidence,” Saban said.
“And also something that will help us develop confidence in him with his teammates. We need as many weapons as we possibly can. I was excited to see him have a great day today, it will be very good for him and us from a future standpoint.”
Teammate Jaylen Waddle, who is a projected first-round NFL draft pick, hauled in five balls for 142 yards and one touchdown. Waddle recorded eight catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns in the season-opening win against Missouri. Metchie III was Alabama’s leading receiver versus the Aggies.
“I told ya’ll about his sneaky speed — he got to showcase that today,” Waddle said.
According to Sportsnet Stats, Metchie III set Alabama’s program record for most receiving yards in a game by a sophomore with 181. The previous mark was posted by Amari Cooper: 178 receiving yards on November 30, 2013 vs Auburn. The Raiders selected Cooper fourth overall in the 2015 NFL draft and he’s currently starring with the Dallas Cowboys.
If Metchie III keeps stacking stat sheet-stuffing performances in the SEC, the six-foot, 190-pound playmaker is going to put himself on the trajectory to become a top NFL pick.