Imagine being a college freshman and getting trained by a fellow student who, after a few months, leaves school and lands a job where he’ll make about $25 million over four years.
That’s what life has been like for former Flanagan star Josh Metellus, a 6-0, 205-pound freshman safety.
Metellus is one of three ex-Flanagan freshmen on the Michigan Wolverines roster — Devin Bush and Devin Gil are the others. But Metellus has perhaps the most intriguing opportunity of the three — following in the cleat marks of Jabrill Peppers, a likely top-10 or even top-five NFL draft pick this coming April.
The apprenticeship for the Flanagan trio ends on Friday night, when their Wolverines play Florida State in the annual Orange Bowl Classic.
Come this spring, Metellus will get his opportunity to start.
“This Josh Metellus — we’re really excited about him,” Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown said earlier this week. “He can kind of be the poor man’s Jabrill Peppers.”
Even the “poor man’s” Peppers can make a lot of NFL money if things work out for Metellus.
But there’s still much more work to be done.
“We’ve got to get [Metellus] a little bigger maybe,” Brown said. “But he can do a lot of the things we ask Peppers to do. [Metellus] can play either safety spot. He’s really intelligent. He understands [defensive] concepts.”
Even though Brown said Metellus might need to get bigger to play the versatile linebacker/safety “viper” role in which Peppers has excelled, that may not necessarily be true. Peppers is almost the same size as Metellus at 6-1, 205 pounds.
All Peppers did this season was become a unanimous first-team All-American.
It’s high praise for a freshman such as Metellus to even be mentioned in the same sentence as Peppers, but Michigan’s coaching staff clearly loves its newcomer.
“I’m not sure if I want to take Josh out of [safety] and turn him into a viper full-time,” Brown said. “But boy, wouldn’t it be wonderful if this guy continues to mature? He’s a different guy [than Peppers], but he has those qualities.”
Brown said Gil, a 6-2, 230-pound linebacker, will have a chance to make the two-deep roster this spring.
But Bush, a 5-11, 230-pound linebacker, is already there.
“Devin Bush has been a solid No. 2 guy since the day he arrived on campus,” Brown said. “I kind of threw him in there.
“He’s in a position where, this spring, he will be in a starting role. And then he’s off and running.”
FUTURE SACK MASTER
Florida State led the nation this season in sacks.
True freshman Brian Burns is another local star that might ensure the Seminoles’ pass rush will continue to terrorize opposing quarterbacks for years to come.
Burns, a Plantation American Heritage graduate, leads all freshmen in the nation with 9 ½ sacks this season.
“He’s very athletic and very intelligent,” FSU defensive coordinator Charles Kelly said. “It’s fun to be around him and he learns quickly. He’s got a chance to be very special if he keeps working and keeps developing.”
Burns, a U.S. Army All-American at Heritage last season, has made sure to soak up as much knowledge from FSU defensive stalwarts such as DeMarcus Walker on a unit that has brought down the quarterback 47 times entering Friday’s Orange Bowl.
Sophomore Tarvarus McFadden, who has had a prolific season of his own with a FBS-high nine interceptions, thinks his former high school teammate is on track to becoming one of the country’s best defensive ends.
“I knew Brian was going to be special,” McFadden said. “That’s why I tried to get him to come here, and I’m glad he chose [FSU]. Brian has come a long way. As a freshman he made the best impact in the country, I think. Brian is going to be something special in the near future.”