University of Alabama receiver John Metchie III used pointers from a family member when he delivered the tide-turning hit that went viral in the Southeastern Conference Championship game.
After an interception by University of Florida defensive back by Trey Dean III, Metchie III rerouted from his pattern to decleat the Gators’ cover man and knock the football out. The sophomore receiver credits his brother, Calgary Stampeders’ safety Royce Metchie, for teaching him how to tackle.
“If I were to give it to one person who taught me how to tackle, I would say my brother, my brother Royce taught me how to tackle like that,” Metchie III said in a videoconference.
“As a kid playing football you play both ways, you play offence and defence and at the end of the day, whoever has the ball and whatever happens out there you just have to play football.”
Fellow pass catcher and Heisman Trophy finalist DeVonta Smith recovered the loose ball for Alabama. Instead of Florida gaining possession, the Crimson Tide got the ball back and Smith scored a touchdown, a key play in the 52-46 SEC title triumph. That helped the No. 1 rated team in the NCAA secure a spot in the College Football Playoff.
“John Metchie has been a very, very positive contributor to our team. He’s tough, he plays hurt, he plays physical, he gets open, he makes catches, he makes plays, and he never complains,” head coach Nick Saban said in a videoconference.
“This guy is the epitome of what you look for in a wide receiver. And he certainly hasn’t disappointed us in terms of how he’s developed here, how he’s worked here, and what he’s developed in to.”
Metchie III finished the SEC Championship contest with four receptions for 62 yards, boosting his numbers to 44 grabs for 782 yards and six touchdowns through 11 games for undefeated Alabama. He’s the first Canadian ever to score a touchdown for Alabama and he’ll start in the College Football Playoff semi-final when the Tide meet Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl on January 1.
“Anytime somebody sets a great example for young people — wherever they’re from — and they do it in a first-class way like John Metchie does for us, that’s a positive for college football, young people, and it’s an inspiration for anybody who has goals and aspirations of being able to play at the collegiate level or in the NFL,” Saban said.
The Brampton native has displayed his ability as a legitimate play-maker for Alabama. He’s second on the team in receptions, yards and receiving touchdowns. Smith ranks first in the entire NCAA in those categories with 98 catches for 1,511 yards and 17 touchdowns. Metchie III averages 17.7 yards per reception, while Smith checks in at 15.4.
“Learning from Smitty, I think playing with him, playing along side him, and seeing him every day I think I’ll be able to take the focus of being able to focus on the task at hand, being consistent and bringing your best every day,” Metchie III said.
“What separates him the most from everybody is definitely his hard work and discipline. He’s an extremely disciplined person and he works extremely hard. And also consistency, shows up every day and brings his best. Those are the characteristics that separate him.”
Smith became the first receiver to win the Associated Press Player of the Year award and is the favourite to win the Heisman Trophy, the most prestigious individual award in all of sports. He would be the fourth receiver ever and first since 1991 to strike the pose permanently in bronze.
“He’s in the film room every day, he’s going to practice working hard, and he wants to get better every day,” Smith said. “Metchie — he comes to work, he works hard, and it’s paying off for him.”