Then the NCAA Clearinghouse ruled that he was academically ineligible based on the sliding scale for GPA and test score. Somewhat disgusted with the whole experience, Metcalf opted to sit out the 1999-2000 season.
The following summer Eastern Arizona heard about Willie and scholarshipped him for basketball, but also let him play football. The fall brought another twist to the story, however. One week into summer football practices Metcalf tore his miniscus. So he spent the football season rehabbing to be ready for basketball. After a successful year on the court he got married and subsequently transferred to Spoon River CC in Illinois to be closer to his wife. Willie helped SRCC to a national ranking during his season there.
After spending 2001 on the basketball court Metcalf decided to make a return to the gridiron -- but not at Eastern. Upstart Pima College in Tucson, Arizona was fortunate enough to land him in their program thanks in part to a Pima player who had known Metcalf at EAC. In 2002, Metcalf hauled in approximately 18 balls for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns, which was good enough for 2nd team All-WSFL honors as a redshirt freshman.
It should come as no surprise that 2003 has already offered good and bad for Metcalf. In early spring he ran an electronically timed 4.77 forty and was looking great in practices. But in March he suffered a hand injury, which forced him out of practices and ultimately hurt his conditioning the rest of spring.
The past is the past, of course, and Metcalf is not looking back. His focus is on a great future and developing his skills.
"I still need to work on everything. I just need to keep on working on everything, because you can never be too good," said Metcalf at the recent JCFootball.com WSFL Combine. "I think my passing and blocking are at the same level, but I think I should work more on blocking."
Metcalf had division one offers after last season, which indicates he might be a tad better than he gives himself credit for.
"I verballed to Texas Tech this past winter, but the coach that recruited me left. Then I thought I better talk about it with my coach at Pima, and we decided to play another year. So, I'm gonna sign with somebody in December," said Metcalf, who will have one year to play one at the D1 level. If his pending appeal to get back a redshirt year in 2000-2001 goes through, then he can be a 2 for 2 prospect.
The coaches at Pima certainly feel fortunate to have Metcalf for another season.
"If he continues to focus on his athletic abilities he's a guy who could make it to The League someday," said Pima assistant coach Doug Holland. "He's got all the tools. You can't coach 6-7." The team is also considering using Willie on the defensive side as a defensive end.
A number of four-year schools are expressing genuine interest in Metcalf.
"The schools I'm looking at are: Washington, South Carolina, N.C. State (serious), Miami, Iowa, Rutgers, Mississippi State. I'm gonna choose the school that throws to the tight end the most (smile)."
One thing is certain: Metcalf will be all smiles when his long, winding road finally leads him to the doors of a four-year university.