What a tough word to hang on a kid. For LSU junior-to-be Zach Mettenbeger, that very word has been attached to his name from the second that both Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee played their last game in that Tigers uniform.
From that point forward, Mettenberger has been deemed the "quarterback of the future" for this LSU football program. And after a perfect regular season, followed by an embarrassing 21-0 loss to Alabama in the National Championship Game, that title comes with plenty of pressure attached as well.
While Jordan Jefferson did compile an impressive record during his time in Baton Rouge, the LSU faithful was never quite on board with the dual-threat quarterback. More often than not, fans would take pleasure in finding criticism in Jefferson's game, and often call for head coach Les Miles to make a switch at the quarterback position.
Now, seven months removed from that dreadful National Championship performance, there is new life with this LSU team as both Jefferson and Lee are gone. In steps Mettenberger, who has been praised by his coaches and teammates for having an exceptional arm and pinpoint accuracy on his throws, something that Jefferson certainly lacked in his arsenal.
If Jordan Jefferson was McDonald's chicken nuggets, than Mettenberger is a fillet mignon. He is an Italian-made Maserati as oppose to an Italian-made Fiat, at least in the minds of LSU fans. And of course, perhaps the most perplexing thing about it, is that Mettenberger has yet to take a meaningful snap in an LSU uniform.
When a football program is able to have as much continued success as Les Miles' LSU program has over the past decade, there are going to be major expectations attached to that program on a yearly basis. The Tigers were on the verge of history last season, but were stopped by their biggest SEC rival, Alabama.
Now, add a young, talented quarterback with a live arm into the mix, and Mettenberger is easily under the most pressure of any starting quarterback in the SEC.
In addition to Mettenberger's skyrocketing expectations, the Tigers also just added Penn State transfer Robert Bolden to their roster. Bolden was a two-year starter at Penn State, but chose to transfer to LSU after the sanctions were handed down on the Nittany Lions and it was announced that any player was allowed to transfer without having to sit out a season.
That means that Bolden, who already has two years of experience on Mettenberger, is going to come in and plans to compete for that starting job from the second he arrives on campus. Of course, Miles has said that Mettenberger is his starting quarterback this season, but don't think that having an experienced quarterback coming in and playing behind him isn't going to add pressure on Mettenberger.
Now, have we mentioned the fact that the Tigers are ranked as the preseason No. 1 team in the nation, according to the USA Today Coaches' Poll that was just released this past week? LSU is ranked ahead of Alabama and USC, despite the fact that both of those programs has experienced starting quarterbacks returning this season.
With a dominant rushing attack, a suffocating defense, a preseason No. 1 ranking and a young quarterback with a live arm, this 2012 LSU football team is loaded with heavy expectations and looking to take home the National Championship trophy that they were so close to winning last year.
The last year that LSU had a pro-style quarterback leading the way was in 2007, when Matt Flynn was the starting signal caller for the Tigers.
How did that season end for LSU?
That's right—a National Championship.