NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Zach Mettenberger has begun to turn the heads of football fans in Tennessee and around the country.
Two weeks ago against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mettenberger set a Monday Night Football rookie record with 263 passing yards, while adding two touchdowns and one interception.
One week later against the Eagles, Mettenberger set a franchise rookie record with 345 passing yards and another two touchdowns. In three out of his four starts, he has a passer rating of at least 88 (76 at Baltimore in week 10).
Mettenberger isn't the only former LSU Tiger to be making an impact as a rookie this season.
Most notably, receiver Odell Beckham is already becoming a star in New York with the Giants. His one-handed, fingertip catch on Sunday Night Football against the Cowboys in Week 12 was one that words can't describe. Chris Collinsworth said it was "maybe the greatest catch he's ever seen" while broadcasting the game. Even if you've already seen it a million times, it's worth watching again... and again… You get the idea. The catch truly defied physics.
Mettenberger said he's never seen anything like it.
"No, nothing like that, but he's a heck of a player," he said of Beckham. "He's a really special athlete, once in generation really."
That doesn't mean Mettenberger was surprised it was Beckham who would pull off such a feat.
"He and Jarvis [Landry] used to have some pretty cool catches in practice so I knew he could do that."
Beckham has 609 receiving yards this season and has topped the century mark in three out of his last four games. That includes seven catches for 108 yards in week 10 against Richard Sherman and the vaunted Legion of Boom in Seattle.
Despite missing the first four weeks of the season, Beckham's 41 receptions rank eighth among rookie wideouts, his 609 yards rank fifth, and his five touchdowns rank fifth.
Jarvis Landry is another former LSU receiver to already be making a name for himself this season. Landry's 49 receptions leads the Miami Dolphins and ranks fourth among rookies. He has four touchdowns in his last four games, including two last week against the Broncos.
It's not just the LSU passing game that's found success in the NFL. Running backs Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue have taken advantage of their opportunities as rookies.
Hill is the Bengals' leading rusher and his 643 rushing yards leads all rookies by more than 100 yards (Jerick McKinnon in second with 538) and his six touchdowns trail only Isaiah Crowell, who has seven. His 34 runs for a first down and long of 62 yards is also the best among his class.
Blue hasn't been featured in Houston like Hill is in Cincinnati, but he's still started three games in the absence of Arian Foster. Blue's rookie campaign is highlighted by a 36 carry, 155-yard outburst against the Browns in Week 11. The rookie back has 436 yards rushing and one receiving touchdown, but has yet to claim his first career rushing touchdown.
Last season LSU averaged 35.77 points per game, thanks in large part to the four standout rookies. Despite being on separate NFL rosters, Mettenberger said the former teammates still keep tabs on one another.
"It's cool going through the process of the combine and the draft and everything with those guys," he said. "We keep up with each other and it's really cool to see us having success now and to think a year ago we were all in one offense."