published Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Georgia Bulldogs awaiting Zach Mettenberger's return

ATHENS, Ga. — The University of Georgia was a long way from Massachusetts for touted tight end prospect Arthur Lynch during the summer of 2008.

Helping shorten that distance was one of Georgia's first commitments for its 2009 class -- quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

"He came down to the field when I was here on my first visit in June going into my senior year in high school," Lynch said. "He came down, and we talked and just kind of hit it off."

With Saturday's 45-21 victory over North Texas now done, Georgia will prepare for one of its former players. Mettenberger, who signed and enrolled early with the Bulldogs in '09, is in his third season at LSU and his second as a starter.

Mettenberger, who had been beaten out by Aaron Murray before being dismissed from Georgia in the spring of 2010, entered Saturday night's game against visiting Auburn leading the nation in pass efficiency.

"I've known Zach since he was 4 or 5 years old, and just to see him mature and develop into what I thought he could -- I'm just very proud of him," Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "At the end of the day, both of us have jobs to do, and we're going to come into the game trying to execute our offenses and give ourselves the best chance to win the ballgame.

"It's not going to be about Zach on that side or Aaron versus Zach."

Maybe not Saturday, but the Murray-Mettenberger topic is likely to dominate the days leading up.

Mettenberger, whose mother works in Georgia's athletic department, redshirted during the '09 season and was dismissed from the program in the spring of 2010 as a result of an incident at a bar in Remerton, Ga. He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of sexual battery.

"It will be interesting to see him on the other sideline wearing an LSU uniform," Murray said. "We've all stayed in contact with him. Last night I roomed with Artie, and he was texting him back and forth, and he was wishing us good luck. All of us in that '09 class stay in touch with him still."

Nobody is closer to Mettenberger on Georgia's roster than Lynch, who had four catches for 85 yards and a touchdown against the Mean Green. Lynch committed to Georgia a couple of months after visiting the campus and meeting Mettenberger, and the two got together this summer in Athens.

"I still talk to him every day," Lynch said. "He is still a close friend of mine. As happy as I am for Aaron, I'm just as happy for him. Both guys work extremely hard, and when you have two guys of that caliber and going to the same school, you know something has to budge. It's similar to Hutson [Mason] and Aaron, but at least there is a year of separation.

"I'm just glad Mett is having success, because he deserves it."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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