Finally, LSU's Zach Mettenberger will be "the guy."
After getting booted from Georgia as a result of his sexual battery arrest in 2010 and sitting behind both Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson last season, Mettenberger will get his chance to shine as LSU's starting quarterback in 2012.
“It’s a sigh of relief to finally get to go out there and do what I love to do which is play college football,” Mettenberger said.
Furthermore, Mettenberger is "excited," and he's ready to "take over the team."
The 6'5", 220-pound quarterback signed with LSU on Dec. 15, 2010, and ever since he's been hyped as the next great LSU QB. The main reason for that is because Mettenberger completed 176 of 299 passes (59 percent) for 2,678 yards and 32 touchdowns with four interceptions at Butler Community College that very same year.
Fast-forward to July 14, 2012, and Mettenberger found himself on Nicholls State University's football field in Thibodaux, La. surrounded by other elite college football quarterbacks at the Manning Passing Academy. Quarterbacks such as USC's Matt Barkley, Arkansas' Tyler Wilson, Georgia's Aaron Murray, Alabama's AJ McCarron, West Virginia's Geno Smith and Kansas State's Collin Klein were all in attendence, along with NFL greats Peyton and Eli Manning.
And as Mettenberger entertained the crowd with his strong arm, he showed confidence while exhibiting enthusiasm with Nicholls and high school wide receivers. Perhaps that confidence stems from practicing against LSU's first-string defense.
“Having Tyrann (Mathieu) and Tharold Simon, and having Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery rushing me is the best practice I can get," Mettenberger said. "If I can do well against them in practice, I’m pretty sure I can do well in the game.”
Fox Sports' Charles Davis was thoroughly impressed with Mettenberger at the camp. Davis said Mettenberger's been around the program long enough now to be able to step in and handle the leadership role.
“That’s a big young man,” Davis said. “To watch him go to work with that big frame, that ball comes off of his hand real nice.”
But Mettenberger is a realist. He knows LSU football's bread and butter is to pound the rock, and he's willing to do whatever his coaches ask of him.
“If you have six running backs back there and the smallest offensive lineman is 320 pounds, you’re going to run the ball,” Mettenberger said. “You have to do whatever to get the win, and I have no problem doing that.”
While the majority of the talk this offseason has involved Mettenberger's hype, questions surrounding LSU's receiving corps have lingered as well—questions such as how LSU will replace their leading receiver and second-round draft pick, Rueben Randle. Mettenberger seems unfazed.
“Any guy we put out there, they’re going to make plays for us,” Mettenberger said. “From Odell Beckham to Paul Turner, we have athletes out there, and I’m very excited to see what they do this year.”
Regardless of who Mettenberger's receivers are and whether LSU will continue their ground-and-pound style, he is genuinely excited about finally becoming a starting quarterback in the SEC after hurdling a few stumbling blocks along the way. He's also convinced that this is his team.
"We need a solid leader of the team. I think I fit that role," he said.
Jake Martin is a Featured Columnist of Bleacher Report and an intern for the Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday, La. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the Concordia Sentinel.