Saturday, September 20, 2016. A day Ole Miss wide receiver DeKaylin Metcalf, better known as D.K., will never forget.
On this day, the Ole Miss Rebel football team played against the Wofford Terriers. Metcalf hauled in the second touchdown of his freshman season in only his second game as a Rebel. This was Metcalf’s last catch of the season as he broke his left foot in the second quarter of the game, ending his freshman year.
“When I got hurt, it hurt me. It hurt me really bad knowing that I couldn’t play anymore, but I looked at it as God does everything for a reason. I looked at it as he wanted me to get better in another aspect of the game. So, I wasn’t sad about it, I went to rehab every day. I built relationships with the training staff. I worked out twice a day. I was getting stronger; I was watching film every day and was mentally prepared every week so I really didn’t lose anything,” Metcalf said on his injury and path to recovery.
Faith and passion for the game weren’t the only motivators for Metcalf to return better than before. He credits fellow standout wide receiver A.J. Brown for much of his success and drive to be great.
“A.J. Brown really pushes me, and we’ve built a strong relationship. I know that we have a goal to make it to the NFL one day. He’s going to push me and I’m going to push him. We’re trying to be All-SEC, All-American, All-Everything. We just want to go out and compete and when DBs face us at the end of the game I want them to know we’re the toughest receivers they’ve ever been against,” Metcalf said.
Brown finished his freshman season as one of Ole Miss’s future premier weapons, tallying 29 receptions, 412 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
The relationship between Brown and Metcalf began before their joint arrival at Ole Miss. The two Mississippi high school All-Americans faced off against each other in matchups coined the “Little Egg Bowl” between Brown’s Starkville Yellowjackets and Metcalf’s Oxford Chargers. In their senior seasons, the two combined for a total of 177 receptions, 2,826 receiving yards and 35 touchdowns. Adding fuel to their rivalry, they shared the MVP title in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic after leading the Mississippi team to victory.
“I see the work we put in day in and day out. How we push each other and compete,” Metcalf said. “We are always working trying to perfect our craft. He’s helping me and I’m helping him and it’s just a give and take relationship.”
D.K. is the son of former Rebel All-American and NFL offensive lineman Terrence Metcalf. D.K. has always been around football due to his father being a professional player, but states that his dad never forced the sport on him at a young age though he is his inspiration for playing the game.
“I grew up watching him play football. I really didn’t know anything while he was in the NFL. He never put me in peewee games. I used to just go in the backyard and play catch,” Metcalf said. “We moved back down here and I started playing with the Buccaneers. Coach Searn Lynch and Coach Michael Abraham, they brought me into football and my dad pushed me and worked me and told me that my hard work is going to pay off. Having that mindset is what really got me.”
Metcalf is an Oxford native and has made his name well known in other sports besides football. While attending Oxford High School Metcalf was a three-sport athlete playing basketball, football and track. In his senior year at Oxford he placed second at the MHSAA 5A State Championship for Track & Field in both the 110m hurdles and the triple jump and helped lead the basketball team to an elite eight appearance in the state championship tournament.
“Basketball gives me hand-eye coordination. I can jump out of the gym, and that helps translate to football, and my track experience gives me my speed.”
Accolades aside, D.K. Metcalf exemplifies what a humble athlete should be. Outside of football Metcalf.’s biggest passion is his “family and faith” and his love for cooking. He never shies away from giving praise to those that helped him get where he is today. Being headstrong in his faith and devoted in his love for his family, he uses these motivators every time out on the field. He looks at football as more than a game but as an opportunity to enrich others.
“I look at football as a platform to help other people or to spread the word of God. I know many people don’t want to just sit in church and just listen or to go to church. Me looking at it as ‘How’d you get here, what’d you do’ I put my faith in God, my trust in God and that he’s blessed me each and every day to play the game of football. Me spreading the gospel through football is how I look at it.”
Metcalf’s humbleness is demonstrated on and off the field. He states that he doesn’t model his game after other professional athletes, because he wants to inspire others to follow his example.
“I just try to be myself. I don’t try to be like everybody else, because I want people to model their game after me.”
The Oxford native’s proudest moment was deciding to play for the team he had spent his entire life watching, the Ole Miss Rebels. The highly touted recruit out of high school had plenty of offers elsewhere, but decided to stay home and is one of few Oxford citizens to play for the Rebels in recent years.
“It’s just a blessing knowing that many people don’t get this opportunity to play at the next level, period. I wake up every day blessed, thanking God for another opportunity and blessing me with the talent I have” Metcalf said.
After an exciting spring game in the Grove Bowl, Rebel fans, sports spectators, analysts and reporters are due for a year to behold from Metcalf, and should remember these words from the wide receiver: “I’m breaking records.”