Best Players of the Les Miles Era #9: Zach Mettenberger

Kevin C. Cox

Determination, grit, leadership and a cannon to go with it. Those words describe Zach Mettenberger

His college career didn't start off the way any athlete would have wanted it to begin. But by the time it was done, Zach Mettenberger was at the helm of LSU's most productive passing offense in school history. Even with that, it took even more resolve out of the quarterback just for him to reach that point.

Mettenberger started his career at Georgia, where he was in a heavily-contested race in the spring with Aaron Murray to man the Bulldog offense. That battle wouldn't last much longer. An incident at a bar got Mettenberger in trouble and would send him to Butler Community College in Kansas. With Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee heading into their senior years, Miles knew he needed a replacement plan and made Mettenberger that option. While he sat out his sophomore year behind the two seniors, fans were excited about the potential in his junior season.

His junior season was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You saw moments where he looked like the inexperienced starting quarterback in the SEC against Florida and Texas A&M, and then the transformation started on a Saturday night in Baton Rouge. Against the top team and defense in the nation in Alabama, Zach put on a show, making NFL-caliber throws and showed fans what they were looking for, even in a losing effort. What happened next could only be described as historical.

It was determination that he put on full force once again. It was the offseason workouts with his receivers. It was heeding every bit of advice new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron dished out to him. It was realizing it was his time to be a leader on this offense, and more importantly, this team.

He had a chance at retribution, to go back to where it all started in Athens and show what he has become, and again despite in a losing effort, Mettenberger put together his best game of his career against his former team.

It was grit. It was never giving up and showing Alabama wouldn't keep him down. It was the crawling to show he was never going to give up.

Even with the ailing injury, he never let it stop him for his final two games until his last play at Arkansas.

It was leadership. It was putting confidence into true freshman Anthony Jennings to take this team on one of the most memorable drives in LSU history. It was embracing him after the fact as if to pass the torch on.

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By the time Mettenberger left, he was the owner of several LSU records. He gave us exciting moment after exciting moment. He showed a certain swagger that just proved he had the reigns held tight to this offense. Despite only starting two seasons, he will leave Baton Rouge with one of the most prolific passing seasons in LSU history.

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