The 50 most important college players in Texas in 2017 — No. 48: UTEP’s Ryan Metz
AS THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON EDGES CLOSER, WE TAKE A LOOK AT THE MOST PIVOTAL PLAYERS FOR EACH PROGRAM'S RESPECTIVE SUCCESS.
The importance of a player is not always defined by their skill level. The most important player on a team is not always the best player on a team. This list is designed to breakdown the 50 most important players in Texas college football for the 2016 season. It is not a ranking of the 50 best college football players in the state. Importance can be defined by position, need, skill or leadership. We’ll count down the list through the summer, all the way to No. 1.
Ryan Metz is a hometown kid, having played at El Paso Andress High School before moving on to UTEP. He was not a highly sought after quarterback product after graduating from Andress and went on to redshirt his first season on campus with the Miners. But as a redshirt freshman in 2015, he burst onto the scene when first given the opportunity. In his first significant action, Metz helped lead UTEP to a thrilling come-from-behind victory over New Mexico State while accounting for as many touchdowns (4) as incompletions in that game. He led the Miners past Incarnate Word the next week too, but was then replaced when he threw four interceptions against UTSA.
As a sophomore last season, Metz was benched to start the year in favor of Fresno State transfer Zach Greenlee. But Greenlee got hurt early in the season and Metz wound up leading the Miners under center in three of their four wins. After bouncing back from a concussion in the loss to Louisiana Tech, Metz came back to lead UTEP to a 3-3 record in its final six games – most notably throwing for five touchdowns and no interceptions in two wins over in-state rivals UTSA and North Texas.
Metz doesn’t have a skillset that’s going to blow you away, but he gets the job done. He has size at 6-foot-4 but isn’t known for his mobility and often struggles under pressure. Metz is a game manager under center – he completed 64.7 percent of his passes, which ranked 14th in the country, and never had a game with more than one interception while totaling just four on the year. He’s not going to give you many explosive big plays, but the offense will move the ball down the field fairly efficiently under his leadership.
The passing game hasn’t really been a focal point of the UTEP offense in any way over the last few years, as the game plan has traditionally been to get the ball into the hands of Aaron Jones as many times as possible. Jones was the nation’s fourth leading rusher last season, accounting for 1,773 yards on the ground. But after declaring for the NFL draft, the UTEP offense is without its biggest playmaker, leaving a void that someone is going to have to fill. The quarterback carousel that went on throughout last year was a distraction and Metz should enter the fall as the starter. His ability to minimize mistakes gives UTEP the best chance to win, which he showed in the final six games of 2016.
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Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.