By Tommy Keeler - email@example.com
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- Any area fans that watched as Sherando graduate Ross Metheny threw his first college touchdown for the University of Virginia on Saturday saw something familiar as he was celebrating -- his fist pump.
"The patented fist pump from the Sherando days, it's got to come down to Charlottesville, of course," Metheny said with a laugh after the game.
Luckily for the Cavaliers, Metheny has brought a few other things to Charlottesville, like his attitude, work ethic and composure. It's all those things that give him a chance to do something special over the next four years.
Metheny red-shirted last year and was willing to wait for his opportunity. With Mike London taking over as head coach this year and new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, I'm sure Metheny was at least a little bit concerned about what would happen. But now Metheny seems to be a perfect fit at Virginia.
He's been able to sit back and watch senior starter Marc Verica and learn from him.
"I watch Marc in everything he does," Metheny said. "The way he handles himself. The way he handles the team, the offense. The way he runs things. Obviously, he's played before. He's been around here for five years. He knows what he's doing."
Metheny also has a healthy competition going with true freshman Michael Rocco. They are currently both No. 2 and London said it may stay that way the rest of the season.
Metheny said the two friends are helping each other.
"From the mistakes, I make I'm sure he learns from -- and the mistakes he makes, I learn from," Metheny said. "For the positive plays we make, we both build off of those."
Metheny got into a game for the first time in his career Saturday and made the most of it, going 4-for-5 passing for 53 yards and one touchdown in the Cavaliers' 48-7 win over VMI.
He said it was a memorable experience.
"I had been looking forward to the opportunity for a while now," Metheny said. "To finally get out there in a live-game situation was definitely beneficial, definitely a great learning experience and something to build off of."
Metheny has always been a winner, on and off the field. While at Sherando he led the team to many victories, and to a Group AA Division 4 state final.
You could always tell he was a great leader by his demeanor on the field and how he interacted with his teammates. As I watched the game Saturday, it was like he was still in a Sherando uniform. He was constantly positive with his teammates, and you could see that same leadership ability in the huddle.
In his two years at Virginia, he's already impressed his teammates.
"He's definitely a kid who approaches things the right way," Verica said. "Not just in football. A kid who conducts himself in a pretty good manner in everything that he does. You always root for a guy like that. And he's also a close friend of mine, too. I'm very happy for him."
Metheny has had time to watch other Virginia quarterbacks the last two years, and has definitely improved, but he's far from being satisfied.
"I feel like personally I've gotten a lot better, but there's definitely a lot more to go," Metheny said. "I can't stress that enough. I'm not anywhere near where I need to be to compete at the highest level. But I feel like I'm getting there."
The Cavaliers are off to a 2-1 start, their only loss to USC. Their difficult ACC schedule begins this week with a home game against Florida State.
It's a little early to tell just how good this team can be, but there's no question London has the program going in the right direction.
"We all bought into coach London's system and coach Lazor's offense," Metheny said. "We believe in what we're doing and that goes a long way in itself. There's definitely been a lot of positive energy, but there's definitely still a lot of work to be done."
The program should continue to get better and better over the next few years. Metheny and Rocco each have a good chance of grabbing the starting spot next year, and Saturday was just another step for each of them.
"There was not a clear-cut No. 2," London said. "[Rocco] and Ross have been battling back and forth. The final evaluation pieces of it is to put them in a game where they have to make the calls and they have to do the things to move the team and make decisions.
"During practice one of them may emerge as the solid No. 2, but right now the evaluation process is on for both of them."
There's no question Metheny is ready for whatever lies ahead. When asked about his goals for the rest of the year, Metheny said he just wants to keep competing and getting better.
There's no doubt in my mind that as long as Metheny keeps working hard and improving, there's going to be many more patented Sherando fist pumps appearing in Charlottesville.