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Wisconsin Recruiting: Badgers Make 4-Star Class of 2024 QB Mabrey Mettauer

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Quarterback Mabrey Mettauer walked away from his only visit to the Wisconsin campus in September impressed by so many facets of the football program. He liked the size of the forwards, the talent of the halfbacks and defensive players, the game day atmosphere inside Camp Randall Stadium and the coaches. But, to be honest with himself, there was one important aspect he couldn’t ignore.

“It wasn’t my favorite attack,” Mettauer said. the athletic🇧🇷

Mettauer (pronounced meh-TAW-yer), a four-star prospect and the No. 21 quarterback in the 2024 recruiting class, had options. A lot of them. He won scholarship offers from 20 Power 5 schools. And he wasn’t going to settle for something that didn’t excite him. Watching Wisconsin struggle to score with their pro-style offense in a 17-14 loss to Washington State during their visit only hammered that point further. Three weeks later, Badgers head coach Paul Chryst was fired.

But when Mettauer’s junior season at Woodlands High School in Texas ended and he began to take a more serious look at his choices, everything changed. Luke Fickell, who recruited Mettauer in Cincinnati, was hired to lead Wisconsin. He then brought in the offensive coordinator Mettauer developed with perhaps the best relationship of anyone during his draft: North Carolina’s Phil Longo, whose Air Raid offense intrigued Mettauer greatly, a dual threat with a strong right arm.

Suddenly, Wisconsin shot to the top of Mettauer’s list. Mettauer said he had texted Longo daily since he arrived in Wisconsin and the two had spoken on the phone 10 to 15 times. He was offered again by the new team on December 15 and quickly decided on his future. On Saturday, he publicly announced his commitment to Wisconsin, joining cornerback Austin Alexander as the Badgers’ No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2024. Mettauer informed Fickell of his decision on Friday afternoon.

“He said, ‘Okay, this is our time,’” Mettauer said. “’We need to start hitting this recruiting crowd hard, you and me.’”

Wisconsin will not play with Fickell’s new coaching staff for more than eight months. But the appeal of a different and potentially dynamic offensive system is already paying dividends. For proof, just look at Mettauer, who picked Wisconsin over finalists North Carolina and Kansas State. Mettauer has paid close attention to what Longo has accomplished with his last two quarterbacks at UNC, with Sam Howell setting 27 school records and Drake Maye finishing 10th in Heisman Trophy voting this season.

“He said the crime that’s in North Carolina, I’m just going to bring it to Wisconsin,” Mettauer said. “I love his offense. I love what he does with it, how he has a good run-to-pass ratio. I love passing the ball and doing some runs during the game. I definitely love his offense that he’s bringing back to Wisconsin.

While Mettauer is listed as a pro-style quarterback by some recruiting services, he is a dual-threat option of intriguing size. He’s 6’1″ and weighs 100 kilos – his dad Mark says he’ll weigh 100 kilos at the start of his senior season – with long blonde hair. Mettauer said he has been confused several times in recent years with Trevor Lawrence, quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but says he models his game after Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, another 6-5 player.

“I’m really a dual threat so I think I can run and pass the ball super well,” Mettauer said. “And I’m not afraid to put the boomstick out for anybody. I’m definitely not afraid of anyone. I know I can pitch really well, move around in the pocket, just take first down when I have to.”

Mettauer is often the tallest player on the field during his career. He was 6-2 as an eighth grader and played as a blocking tight end and offensive tackle for his youth football teams until he moved to quarterback as a high school freshman.

“And then he was sort of the glorified running back because he ran over everybody,” Mark said. “They put him on a wing in the old t-wing formation. He ended up blocking and attacking the guys on every play only to make way for the running backs at that point because they kept putting nine or 10 guys in the area when he would snap right.

Mettauer gave a glimpse of his passing potential as a freshman when, on his first varsity drive in a game against the Grand Oaks, he threw for a 53-yard touchdown. Woodlands manager Jim Rapp said he did not want to put too much on Mettauer’s shoulders as a freshman, so he split time at fullback and was used sparingly in the passing game. But what stood out that season was that no moment in the game was too big for him. Rapp recalled seeing Mettauer deftly handle a game-ending drive against Willis in which he led his team down the field for a touchdown.

“For a freshman, that’s impressive,” Rapp said. “So for me, it was like, ‘OK, when he’s our guy, he’s going to be something else.’”

He has been burning down defenses at Texas ever since. In two years as a full-time varsity starter, he threw for 5,080 yards with 57 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also rushed for 1,112 yards and 22 touchdowns. Mettauer finished his junior season completing 66.5 percent of his passes for 2,621 yards with 32 touchdowns and six interceptions. He carried 84 times for 613 yards – 7.3 yards per rush attempt – with seven touchdowns.

Two standouts from his junior season in a shotgun distribution system stand out and show what he can offer the Badgers. On one play, Mettauer makes a shotgun snap, keeps the ball on a read option with a defensive end closing space on the running back, and outruns the defense down the right sideline for a 57-yard touchdown. On another play, he climbs into the pocket under pressure and opens a bomb that travels 64 yards in the air for an end.

The Mettauer family has deep ties to Texas A&M. Both Mark and his wife attended Texas A&M, Mabrey’s grandfather played for the Aggies in the 1960s under Gene Stallings, and one of his uncles also played there. But Mabrey showed no loyalty during his recruitment any more than his older brother McKade did. McKade is a 6-4, 305-pound offensive lineman who started 38 games in three seasons at Cal and started last season at left guard for Oklahoma.

“When McKade heard that Wisconsin was interested in Mabrey, he said, ‘Oh yeah, this is as good as SEC football or better,’” Mark said. “He played at Cal, where nobody showed up for games, and then he played at Oklahoma, where everybody shows up. We watched a game in Madison, which is very similar to the SEC. These guys want to play to big crowds.”

Mark said he had a more positive view of Wisconsin’s pro-style offense than Mabrey and noted that the biggest thing the program had been lacking in recent years was a halfback to consistently deliver. But Longo’s system, which is willing to be aggressive on the pitch, build for star players in space and utilize RPO actions with a mobile quarterback, offered a package that was too good for his son to pass up.

“I definitely know they would have been more successful if Mabrey had been there,” said Mark. “That’s an opinion, of course. But I definitely think with Longo moving there, he’s a guy who develops centre-backs. That’s his problem. He’s not new to the game at all. His best fit is a great athletic quarterback over 6-4, with a good running back and a good O-line. The only piece Wisconsin is missing is a top-notch quarterback, in my opinion. This has always been their thing.

“It’s hard to get a guy up there. Russell Wilson is the last guy of note who played really well, and he transferred – he wasn’t a recruit. He wasn’t a guy out of high school. So think about it. You get a guy like that with talent. You plug in and play with what you already have, linemen, running backs, some top receivers. He was successful. You get a guy like Longo who already has all the buzz with his defenders and his attacks, you can bring in more kids like him. I think it will make game planning for Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan much more difficult for the Big Ten Championship Game.

Mettauer said it was important to him to be one of the top appointments in the class so he could help recruit other players to join him at Wisconsin. He plans to visit the campus a second time and meet the new team in January. The quarterback room commanded by Fickell and Longo is already preparing to create many intrigues for the future. Wisconsin has added Oklahoma transfer Nick Evers, a four-star prospect and top 10 quarterback in the Class of 2022 who will be a redshirt freshman next season. Myles Burkett will also be a redshirt freshman, while Cole LaCrue will be a true freshman. All four players have the arm strength and mobility to succeed in Longo’s system.

Like any successful quarterback, Mettauer doesn’t lack confidence with what he believes is possible in Wisconsin.

“If I’m not being touched,” he said, “we’re winning games.”

f(Photo courtesy of Mabrey Mettauer)