Alabama's John Metchie III Embracing Leadership Role in Unproven Wide Receiver Room

After stepping into a key role due to an injury to Jaylen Waddle last season, Metchie is hoping to build on a stellar sophomore campaign as the Crimson Tide's No. 1 pass catcher in 2021.

HOOVER, Ala. — Alabama football has dealt with much turnover at every position but, maybe, no more than the wide receiver position. 

Over the last two years, the Crimson Tide has produced four first-round NFL draft picks in Jerry Jeudy (2020), Henry Ruggs III (2020), Jaylen Waddle (2021) and DeVonta Smith (2021). 

It's the first time in history that one school has had two wideouts in back-to-back years selected within the first round. 

Now, heading into the 2021 season, all eyes are on junior pass catcher John Metchie III to step into the role of being quarterback Bryce Young's top target. 

"I think it's a role I'm embracing, having learned from all the guys before me," Metchie said inside the Wynfrey Hotel on Wednesday morning during SEC Media Days. "I'm definitely excited about it. I'm looking forward to being able to teach the young guys things and definitely lead the receiver room. So I'm definitely looking forward to that."

Metchie finished the 2020 season with 55 receptions for 916 yards and six touchdowns, which was second in all categories behind the eventual Heisman Trophy winner Smith. 

"I think the biggest thing I learned from [DeVonta] was work ethic," Metchie said. "Just being able to work day in and day out and bring your best self day in and day out."

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban had high praise for the kind of teammate Metchie has turned into during his three years at the Capstone.

"John Metchie is a very mature guy," Saban said. "He has also set a good example and been someone that other players can look to and emulate because of the example he sets. He has been a good leader in that group and a lot of the players respond to him in a positive way because he has a very serving personality. 

"He's not confrontational, but he is very helpful."

For the first time in his Alabama career, Metchie will have a new offensive coordinator calling the shots in former Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien. 

"I was excited when I heard he was hired," Metchie said. "I'm just excited to work with him. I think it would be a great opportunity for me to learn a lot, and I think it says a lot about the program at Alabama, the fact that you can have two NFL head coaches on your staff. I think it just says a lot to the kind of coaching you're going to get and the type of team you're going to have."

Metchie added: "I think Coach Sark [Texas coach Steve Sarkisian] did a great job. I think we're all excited for Coach O'Brien. Everyone kind of knows who he is and what he does, so I'm excited to have his mind collaborate with the Alabama offense."

Alabama assistant Holmon Wiggins is the last holdover from the historic 2020 offensive staff and the native Canadian is excited about another year under his wings.

"Coach Wiggins is special," Metchie said. "Coach Wiggins is definitely special. I think, as a competitor and a true competitor of the sport, a person who wants to study the sport, be a student and get better, you really couldn't ask for a better coach."

Metchie is one of three returning starters on the offensive side of the ball and wasn't able to participate in spring practice due to injury recovery from the regular season, but says the new-look Crimson Tide offense's potential is "through the roof."

"I think we saw a lot of good opportunity and a lot of young guys," Metchie said. "I think we saw a lot of potential in a lot of young guys and a lot of young guys that can step up and help.

"So we're definitely excited about that."