Levi Metheny anticipates being anxious shortly before kickoff at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 1 when he steps onto the turf at Heinz Field as the University of Pittsburgh plays host to Albany.
“I get nervous before every game,” explained Metheny. “That’s only natural.”
This 2018 college football opener, however, is hardly natural or normal for the 5-11, 233-pound linebacker. He’s a Bethel Park High School graduate playing for the opposition.
“It will be awesome coming home but I’m treating it like any normal game,” he said. “It’s the first game of the season and I’m looking forward to playing there.”
Although he served as a ball boy when Bethel Park won its only WPIAL championship in 2008, Metheny never had the chance to play in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ house until this fall.
“I have no idea what it will be like but I expect a lot of friends will be cheering for me and my family will be there,” Metheny said. “I’m looking forward to the atmosphere because family has been a big thing for me.”
Metheny grew up under the watchful eye of his dad. Jeff Metheny, who has coached the Black Hawks for nearly three decades, handed control of the team, both offensively and defensively, to him as a tender freshman.
In his career, Metheny totaled 4,862 passing yards, 45 passing touchdowns, 1,000 rushing yards and 34 rushing touchdowns. He scored 204 points. Defensively, the two-year captain and four-year letterman accrued 158 tackles, 11 sacks, 26 tackles for a loss, two fumble recoveries and an interception. He broke up three passes.
In his senior season, he earned first-team all-conference and Almanac MVP honors when he threw for 1,712 yards and 20 TDs and rushed for nine more scores. He logged 79 tackles, including 15 for a loss and seven sacks, a fumble recovery and an interception.
During the winter months, the 2016 graduate played basketball, earning four additional varsity letters. Hence, he is accustomed to the role his father has now assumed.
“I’m used to him being a spectator and not my coach because of when I played basketball and would see him in the stands,” he said with a laugh. “It’s cool to get to see that part of my parents now,” continued the son of Cindy Metheny. “They have come to a lot of my games already. They have been so supportive.”
While showcasing his gridiron skills in Pittsburgh is a bonus, it’s not Metheny’s objective. He wants to help the Great Danes register a victory.
“I’m not focused on personal goals,” Metheny said. “I just want to be the best I can be and to help the team any way that I can, whether that be on special teams or at linebacker.”
After a red-shirt season in 2016, Metheny looked good in all 11 games he played for Albany in 2017, mostly on special teams. Statistically, he recorded 23 tackles (10 solo) along with a forced fumble and a recovered fumble.
Since matriculating to Albany, Metheny has given up calling the signals. He has adjusted to not playing quarterback and accepted that the college game is different from high school.
“You are always going to miss high school football, your family and your mom but at the end of the day you have to move on and take the next step,” he said.
Metheny, as he was at Bethel Park, is big into the academic scene. He maintains a 3.6 GPA while majoring in business.
“You can think about a possible pro career and if an opportunity would come along, you can’t turn it down but you need to focus on the here and now. For me, that’s being a college student-athlete. Academics are just as important as football.”
Metheny said one of the reasons why he selected Albany to continue his athletic endeavors was because it was close to New York City, the hub of the business world. The skills he has honed at Bethel Park and on the gridiron, he adds, should serve him in his career beyond sports.
“At Bethel Park, I definitely developed a strong work ethic. Thanks to my dad and all the coaches I played for, I learned how hard you have to work to be successful, not just in athletics. I learned to be a man and that has given me an edge.”
Metheny advises the same to those who seek to follow in his footsteps.
“Just work hard,” he said. “Just keep passionate about what you are doing and work hard every day.”
Metheny is not the only Pittsburgh native working hard to upend the Panthers. The Great Danes are coached by Greg Gattuso, and Jim Sweeney serves as his assistant and offensive line coach. Both are Seton-La Salle products. Gattuso played at Penn State and Sweeney played at Pitt and 16 years in the NFL.