Headed outside of the FBS, the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder selected Butler County Community College in Kansas as his temporary home.
Upon arrival, head coach Les Miles dialed up Mettenberger to let the Watkinsville, Ga. native know about the interest the Tigers had.
“That was big for me,” he recalled. “That kind of let me know that getting back into the SEC was a possibility. Things were up in the air right after I left Georgia, so for coach Miles to offer me a scholarship at that point let me know he was really after me.”
Mettenberger kept recruiting on the backburner through most of his fall campaign, picking up offers from the likes of LSU, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Arkansas but only visiting College Station and Baton Rouge.
Instead, he focused on the field.
On Sunday Mettenberger capped off an undefeated regular season with a one-point loss to Navarro in the National Championship game. For the year he threw for 2,678 yards and 32 touchdowns on 176-of-299 passing.
“I wanted to put all my energy into helping the team win,” Mettenberger said. “We didn’t have the season we had hoped for because we didn’t win it all, but my teammates were all great guys and it proved to be a really good experience for me.”
When November hit, Mettenberger took to the road to visit the Tigers and Aggies. While Ole Miss hoped to land a visit of their own, the deal was done on Monday morning when Mettenberger talked to Miles and decided to go public with his decision.
“I had actually committed to coach Miles and LSU at the Ole Miss game, but I didn’t want to go public until my team finished our season because I thought it might become a distraction,” he said. “I knew on the visit that weekend that it was where I needed to be.”
Being recruited to LSU by Miles, Frank Wilson and Gary Crowton, the trifecta proved too much for any other program to pass up.
As Mettenberger put it, the atmosphere felt comfortably familiar.
“The coaches are all really great guys who made me feel at ease with the process and my decision,” he said. “Les is a guy who is very blue collar like most of America, which I love.
“Baton Rouge just felt like home, and that was the biggest thing for me throughout this whole recruitment process. I wanted to be somewhere that I could relax and enjoy myself.”
With two scholarship quarterbacks on campus, Mettenberger said that he is eyeing a starting job. The fact that the pair of rising seniors combined for just six passing touchdowns only adds motivation to his mission.
“The opportunity is there,” he said. “I’ll have a few seasons to play once I get there, but I’d like to start seeing the field right away. I am going to come in and compete for the starting job, just like I would have somewhere else.”
Mettenberger said of getting back into the SEC: “It’s the best conference in America, and I want to compete against the best.”
An early enrollee, Mettenberger will sign with LSU within the month and begin practicing with the team in early January.
“I will be with the team during Cotton Bowl preparations, at least while they are on campus,” he said. “I’m pretty excited about that.
“This is a great day for me and my family, and I’m happy that LSU is my next stop. I hope I can come in and have a big impact on the program.”