Versatile DB TJ Metcalf can and can play anywhere on the pitch for Pinson Valley this fall
There’s not much Pinson Valley defensive back TJ Metcalf can’t do on the football field.
“This fall, he’ll be playing wherever we need the most talented secondary player,” recently appointed Indians head coach Lee Guess said. “Whether it’s the safety or the corner or the nickel – he can play it all. He’s such a smart kid. His grades are good enough that he could go to an Ivy League school if that’s what he wanted to do. He can play anywhere.”
The colleges have taken notice.
The 6-foot-1, 188-pound junior is one of three highly drafted players in the Class of 2023 at Pinson Valley. The 247 recruiting rankings placed Metcalf 20th among Alabama State players in his class. Wide receiver Amare Thomas is No. 23 and defensive lineman Connor Knight is No. 25.
Metcalf already has nearly 30 deals. They include Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Florida State, Mississippi State, Penn State, West Virginia, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Central Florida and Missouri. He spent the past weekend visiting head coach Deion Sanders at Jackson State.
“First of all, I would like to thank God for everything,” Metcalf said in a message to AL.com. “I am also grateful to my parents for their sacrifice during this process. My recruitment was an eye-opening experience.
“I’ve been to places you can only dream of. I’m lucky to have offers from almost every college football conference. It’s great to be noticed and sought after for all the hard work I’ve put in.
Although most colleges recruit Metcalf as a defensive back, Guess said he could also play on offense at the senior level — as he likely will for the Indians this year.
“He can do anything they need,” Guess said. “He’s so talented.”
Guess said Metcalf could play a similar role this year to former Pinson Valley Mr. Football winner Kool-Aid McKinstry in his senior year. McKinstry, currently at Alabama, started on defense but also made huge plays as a wide receiver on offense, including a state championship win over Spanish Fort.
“Everyone knew Kool-Aid was going to be the best defensive back in the state,” said Guess, who was an assistant under Sam Shade at the time. “We tried to do everything we could over the past two years to involve him. He showed everyone that he deserved to be Mr. Football. The hardest part was making sure he was conditioned to handle the load on both sides of the ball. It will be the same with TJ.
Metcalf was credited with 115 tackles and 4 interceptions in 2021. He also interrupted 8 passes, forced 2 fumbles, recovered 2 fumbles and returned kicks for the Indians.
“I think he’s ready to take on the leadership role that we need in our defence,” Guess said. “Wherever he chooses to sign, they’ll get so much more than a great athlete. We’re going to give him plenty of room to grow and be a leader, and I’m excited to see how that develops.
Metcalf told AL.com he plans to trim his deal slate after the spring or summer. He currently loves the chance to visit college campuses across the country.
“Meeting all the different coaches and their teams has been fun,” he said. “Sitting in position meetings and talking about football with position coaches has also been good. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world. I strive to be the best at everything I do, and I think everyone notices that. I am grateful to the schools that recognize my talent and my ability to play at the top level.
Guess, a standout catcher during his high school career at Hewitt-Trussville, also sees a lot of talent in Thomas.
“Hopefully we give him the opportunity to show he’s that playmaker or receiver that he strives to be,” Guess said. “I told him that as a senior everyone will know who he is and they won’t let him play one-on-one much. He’ll have to learn how to get rid of double coverage while making plays, and I’m sure he will.
Knight will anchor the Pinson Valley defensive line, although he can also play offense at this level or in college.
“Conner can’t wait to get out there and show a lot of college guys what he can do,” Guess said. “He is able to play in attack and defense, and we hope to take advantage of his ability to play. A few colleges consider him an offensive lineman. The more versatility he demonstrates, the more university recruiters will be attracted to him.
Thomas’ offerings include Coastal Carolina, Penn State and USF. Knight’s offerings include Arkansas, Kentucky, Miami, Notre Dame and Oregon State.
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