Potential suspension led to stressful weekend for Metellus

Sophomore safety Josh Metellus was relieved to find out he wasn't suspended against Maryland, and he came up with a punt block against the Terrapins.

Sophomore safety Josh Metellus was relieved to find out he wasn't suspended against Maryland, and he came up with a punt block against the Terrapins. Buy this photo
Katelyn Mulcahy/Daily
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 8:42pm

Josh Metellus relieved some stress this past Saturday. 

The sophomore safety said Tuesday night that he’s been practicing blocking punts all year and worried about whether he would ever do it in a game.

He finally did in the second quarter of Michigan’s 35-10 win over Maryland. It “felt soothing,” according to Metellus.

That relief may not have compared to what he felt early last week, when Metellus discovered he was eligible to play in the first half against the Terrapins.

In the third quarter of the Wolverines’ 33-10 win over Minnesota on Nov. 4, Metellus found himself in a scrum after the whistle. Golden Gopher lineman Donnell Greene threw a punch at junior safety Tyree Kinnel. Metellus walked over, stood in front of Greene and promptly found himself ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The call didn’t sit well with Jim Harbaugh, who said last week that “it didn’t really have a lot of logic to it.”

“It didn’t seem like he threw a punch,” Harbaugh later said of the incident. “There was a scrum, the official said there was a scrum and they weren’t going to lose control of the game, so there were off-setting penalties.”

Metellus didn’t think he did anything wrong. He said Tuesday that he was “just trying to protect his teammate.”

“Coach told me next time, just don’t go over there,” Metellus said. “Just stay back. We already got the flag. There’s no reason to go over there to start something.”

He understood why the officials threw him out of the game, though, and was more worried about whether he’d be available for the first half of the Maryland game. But that wasn’t immediately made clear.

The rules state that any player ejected for targeting in the second half of a game must sit out the first half of the following contest. Metellus wasn’t called for targeting. But he was worried nonetheless whether a suspension would carry over.

In fact, he was so worried that was the first thing he checked once he returned to the locker room.

“I didn’t even take a shower,” Metellus said. “I just grabbed my phone and started Googling. I couldn’t find an answer.”

He found company in the training room in freshman receiver Nico Collins, who had injured his ankle during the game. Collins asked Metellus if he was suspended for Maryland. Metellus told Collins he had actually meant to ask him the same question.

The next day, people started calling Metellus, asking him about the incident and what it meant for Maryland. Metellus didn’t know the answer.

The whole situation was “funny” to teammate and close friend Devin Bush Jr.

“We were just joking about it,” Bush said. “Making fun of him — that he got kicked out the game.”

The mystery continued through the weekend. Metellus went to Schembechler Hall on Sunday, hoping to find the coaching staff. They weren’t around, and no one else he asked knew the answer either. The next day, he asked Harbaugh. Harbaugh didn’t know. And at that point, Metellus got pretty worried.

“I was just sitting there like, ‘Damn, I probably am kicked out,’ ” Metellus said. “ ‘If they don’t know by now, I’m probably not going to play the first half.’ ”

But it didn’t take much longer for the situation to be resolved. After Monday’s practice, Harbaugh pulled Metellus aside and told him he wouldn’t miss any time.

So his burden was lifted — and luckily so for Metellus. After all, his blocked punt came in the second quarter. Had he been suspended, he would’ve still been worrying about blocking his first.

“Yeah, it just calmed me down,” Metellus said of the play. “I was stressing about getting one this whole season and I finally got it, so I just let everything go.”