Canadian receiver John Metchie III started his junior season at the University of Alabama in style.
The No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide took on the 14th rated University of Miami on Saturday afternoon. Sophomore quarterback Bryce Young hit a wide open Metchie III who juked a defender and went airborne into the end zone — the Brampton native scored the first touchdown of the season from 37 yards out.
“It’s a lot of work in the off-season, a lot of reps in practice, a lot of reps after practice with us getting on the same page. We’re working to build that connection,” Young said.
The 21-year-old Canuck had a team-high six catches for 76 yards to help Alabama record a 44-13 win over the Hurricanes. Metchie III looked explosive and prepared to be the go-to guy in the offence implemented by former Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien.
“It felt great. There was a lot of anticipation and you start to get a little anxious, but for us to get the first win out of the way, we get to put it up on tape and learn from it. It’s always fun being out there with my guys,” Young said.
Young completed 27-of-38 passes for 344 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in his first NCAA start. He led the Tide to their 20th straight season-opening win as head coach Nick Saban becomes the first coach to win 80 games in ranked match-ups during the AP poll era, since 1936.
“We did a lot of really good things. Bryce played really well for his first start. Metchie was really good,” Saban said post-game.
Metchie III played a role in his bench boss making more history as he started the year as the top pass target on the team with 2020 Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith moving on to the NFL. Smith was selected in the first round, 10th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2021 NFL Draft.
While Smith was starring for Alabama last season, Metchie III emerged as a legit playmaker. He made 55 receptions for 916 yards and six touchdowns with a 16.7 yards per catch average. The six-foot, 195-pound pass catcher was the second leading receiver on the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship team.
By registering a 31-point win to begin the year, it appears Alabama is the heavy favourite to earn the CFP title in 2021 and Metchie III will play a critical role.