CENTENNIAL — The weather outside was frightful but inside the warm home of Joe and Cheryl Metzger, the celebration heated things up in a hurry.
This was a very big deal.
It’s not often that two good friends from the same school, whose families are close, sign letters of intent to play major college football. But that’s what happened Wednesday evening when Regis Jesuit stars Andrew Metzger and Hayden Moore signed a letter of intent as family and friends cheered, toasted, and cut two huge cakes.
Metzger, an all-state tight end, is headed to Kansas State. Moore, an all-state linebacker, is going to Michigan. Both Regis seniors had a late change of heart.
Metzger originally committed to Colorado but when coach Karl Dorrell was fired in October, Metzger started looking at other options. When Deion Sanders was recently hired to resurrect the CU program, Metzger could have stayed with the Buffs, but he thought K-State was a better fit for him.
“I kind of assumed CU wasn’t going to be the right fit for me,” Metzger said. “But they called me up and they re-offered me (a scholarship) — which was great. But communications-wise and culture-wise, it just wasn’t the right fit for me anymore.
“I had been talking to K-State for a while and I took a visit and I decided that’s where I wanted to go.”
Moore originally committed to Nebraska, but when coach Scott Frost was fired in September, Moore started looking elsewhere.
“It was a hard decision and a little stressful at times, with all the unknown factors,” Moore said. “But I think I dealt with it fairly well, even with a (prep) season left to play and school on top of that.”
Moore, who was also pursued by Texas A&M, was like a coach on the field for the Raiders, and coach Danny Filleman said he has the quickest first step of any defensive player he’s ever coached.
“He’s a sideline-to-sideline player and he can walk out and cover, too,” Filleman said. “He’s an excellent pass rusher. He’s just the whole package.”
Moore, who started at Regis as a wide receiver, then switched to defensive end, became a linebacker during his junior season. He blossomed as a senior, leading the state with 197 total tackles (95 solo), an astonishing 16.4 tackles per game. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound linebacker also had seven sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.
“I didn’t have the 4.4 speed to be a receiver, but I loved playing linebacker and it’s all worked out,” he said.
Metzger, who stands 6-5, 240, was heavily recruited, not just by K-State and Colorado, but also by Nebraska, Kansas, Washington State, Michigan State and Duke.
Metzger had 25 catches for 334 yards and six touchdowns as a senior. He’s something of a hybrid. He’s not just a big wide receiver with good hands, he can also lay defenders out.
“Andrew’s definitely not a hand-in-the-dirt tight end,” Filleman said. “He moves really well, knows how to get open and has terrific hands.”
Filleman feels blessed to have coached the two young men and he’s thrilled to see them take their games to the next level.
“There is a tremendous sense of pride,” the coach said. “Our goal is to always help mold these young men to take the next step in their lives. If they want to take football to the next level, great. And if that’s part of the process, we are thrilled to give them the tools that they need and succeed. I can’t say enough about what these two kids meant to our program at Regis.”
The only glitch in Wednesday evening’s festivities was this: Joe Metzger, it turns out, played tight end at Ohio State from 1988-92. The Buckeyes’ archrival, of course, is Michigan. Now one of his son’s best friends is going away to play for the Maize and Blue.
“That’s OK,” Joe said. “We’ve known each other for so long. So it’s family first, rivalry second.”