Before Alabama’s spring game Saturday, safety Xavier McKinney gave wide receiver John Metchie a challenge.
“I talked to him before the game and I was like ‘Man, I’m going to need at least two touchdowns,’” McKinney said.
Metchie failed to score the two touchdowns McKinney requested, but the freshman did haul in five catches for 133 yards en route to being named the Most Valuable Player of the Game.
“I definitely expected that to happen,” McKinney said.
McKinney had faith Metchie would turn in an impressive performance because he’s watched the speedy wideout make big plays every day this spring.
“In practice, he pretty much goes off every day,” McKinney said. “I mean, to me, he’s like another (Jaylen) Waddle in my opinion.”
The comparison to Waddle will continue to build on the hype surrounding Metchie, but coach Nick Saban doesn’t want to declare him a superstar just yet. Metchie was playing against Alabama’s second-team secondary, which Saban has been somewhat critical of this spring.
“He did a good job,” Saban said “But again, what’s the level of competition? Would he catch all of those passes if 2 (Patrick Surtain Jr.) or 7 (Trevon Diggs) or somebody is covering him? I don’t know. But when he does that, then that’s good.”
Metchie will need to continue to prove himself in order to carve out a role in a receiving corps that is already loaded. The Crimson Tide returns its top four pass-catchers, including Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith, Waddle and Biletnikoff Award winner Jerry Jeudy. Smith snagged six catches for 95 yards in the spring game while Jeudy caught five for 104 yards and a touchdown. Waddle added four catches for 59 yards and a score.
Despite the surplus of talent, Saban projects Metchie to make an impact for Alabama next season.
“He plays fast, has got some strength,” Saban said. “I think this guy is going to help us next year and I think he’ll be a good player for us.”
Metchie is one of several young receivers that flashed potential Saturday. Redshirt sophomore Tyrell Shavers caught four passes for 45 yards and redshirt freshman Xavier Williams had two catches for 35 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s a lot of competition, everybody knowing we all have each other’s back,” Smith said. “Just having that depth really makes everybody feel comfortable.”