To see the son is to remember the father. On football fields in the Southwest Conference this season, it almost seems as though Terry Metcalf has taken a stutter-step back in time, somehow gotten reborn after a career-ending injury with the Redskins five years ago. Look again. That's Eric.

"Legs, body structure, almost a carbon copy," said the chief talent scout for the Dallas Cowboys, Gil Brandt, who saw most of Terry's college and pro career and is equally fascinated by Eric's moves at Texas, where this season he has gained 946 yards rushing and 1,623 all-purpose yards, leaving him No. 2 on the Longhorns' all-time list in that category behind Earl Campbell. He should pass him early next season.

The Metcalfs have been running, in one way or another, individually or together, even toward each other, from about the time Eric was born in Seattle. Terry was 16 at the time.

Only in the last year or so has Terry stopped running from some football-related problems off the field that even his extraordinary talent could not evade.

A first glance at them generates some surprises. The father is the one wearing an earring; the son is closer to earning a college degree, although part of Terry's restructured life includes taking courses at Howard University.

"I went to school just to stay eligible, basically; to get an NFL contract," Terry said. "That's why I'm going back now. I'm approaching classes like I'm trying to make it in the NFL, with that same enthusiasm. When I walk down and get my degree, that'll be my Super Bowl ring."

It excites both Metcalfs that Eric may soon be faced with a decision both difficult and delightful: football or the Olympics. He's a 27-foot long jumper. Terry mostly used track to refine his football skills.

"I see a lot of him in me," Terry said. "I still think I'm quicker. He's faster than I was, at his age. No question of that. I had more lateral quickness. I tell him that.

"When I was coaching {part-time at O'Connell High in Arlington}, I could see him every day. Plus every game. I'd sit there and say: 'I've seen that . . . I did that.' Others are seeing Eric for the first time this year and saying he runs just like I did.

"I say: 'What did you expect?' "

Because Terry played in the video age of pro football, in the NFL and in Canada, his exploits are a projector away from Eric to enjoy -- and to examine.

The play that is repeated most is Terry vs. the Redskins, a one-on-one near-collision with linebacker Chris Hanburger when Terry was the St. Louis Cardinals' stylish do-everything back in the mid-1970s.

Terry and Hanburger were charging at each other. About a yard away, Terry suddenly stopped. Then he pulled something that seemed typically magical, keeping Hanburger off balance and setting up the block that eventually produced a touchdown.

"I used to talk about that with my friends, when I first got here," Eric said during an interview in Austin. "Then I'd show it, all the time. Over and over and over. Watch this!"

When talking about himself and his son, Terry frequently will pull his career into the present. As in, "Eric and I both think every time we touch the ball we're gonna go the distance. Unless it's third and one. I see backs in college that don't have that enthusiasm. I'm still trying, still fighting. It's why I got a lotta fumbles; the ball got exposed. Eric does it sometimes, too."

Neither Metcalf being very big, each has managed to become ghost-like at most of the proper times. Just when a tackler perhaps 80 pounds heavier seems about to wrestle him to the ground, Metcalf dances free for more yardage. Jim Brown punished the bodies in the NFL; Terry Metcalf punctured egos. Worked on His Moves

A slightly older friend back in Seattle was the ultimate football escape artist in Terry's mind.

"I saw him in two-hand-touch games," he said, "with three guys around him and not get touched. That's also being hemmed in by the sideline. I wanted to be able to do that.

"That's when I started working on cuts. People used to think I was strange, because I'd go out on an empty field and practice those cuts. All by myself. Just trying stuff. Working on body control, certain kinds of moves. Joe Gibbs and the {Cardinals'} staff at St. Louis thought I worked out too much."

Ironically, Metcalf never won more than a divisional championship in any sport after Little League baseball. That's when he also lost his amateur status. Sort of.

"You'd hit a home run and dollar bills would be sticking through the fence," he said. "It wasn't necessarily your father. Just fans who knew you or knew your father. Big money for us at the time was $2 or $3. Candy was a lot cheaper back then.

"I learned to play sports against people five years older than me. My older brother and his friends. I learned how to get with it, or get off the field; the rules of intimidation."

Funny he should mention getting off the field. He rarely did it, in high school, at Everett Junior College or, to a lesser extent, Long Beach State. On offense, he was the principal runner; on defense, he played cornerback or safety. He ran back kicks, punted, tried the extra points and field goals and also kicked off.

"That's the way I was brought up in the game," Terry said.

Same with his son. When asked whether he considers himself a tailback, a receiver or a kick returner, Eric said: "All of them. I just want to get the ball. If I had to play guard, and they still pitched me the ball, I'd play guard." Coryell Remembered Him

Terry was not heavily recruited out of high school; at 5 feet 10 and 175 pounds, he also might have been overlooked by the pros in the 1973 draft had the coach of a rival college, Don Coryell, not recently been named head coach of the Cardinals.

His third season with the Cardinals, 1975, Terry set an NFL record for all-purpose yards (2,462). He averaged 4.9 yards rushing that season, 8.8 yards receiving, 27.4 yards returning kickoffs and 12.4 yards running back punts.

In six NFL seasons, he made the Pro Bowl three times, was named the Cardinals' MVP twice and became the 22nd player in league history to muster 10,000 total yards.

Having run so far, he then jumped. Took a hike to Canada, actually. Unlike almost all of his peers, when Terry's team and 27 others balked at his salary demands, he did something about it.

"I was supposed to be the No. 1 free agent {after the 1977 season}," he said. "They were trying to keep my salary down, I feel, so they could keep everybody supposedly under me low. Every team I went to was asking the same amount of money.

"All I was asking for was $200,000. Nobody wanted to give that to me. They wanted to give me $50,000 for signing and $100,000 salary. I said no way, not for what I do. Guys doing less than I was were making more money.

"Lots of owners thought I wouldn't sign {with the Canadian Football League}. I was the first NFL player in the prime of his career to take that walk. The first to do it. That was a big step. Very scary.

"But I made more money in signing bonuses than I did in five years in St. Louis. Or later with the Redskins, for that matter. Trouble was, we didn't have a good team {his three seasons with Toronto}; that was the only bad thing about it."

Gibbs brought Metcalf to the Redskins when he became head coach in 1981. In his only season, before suffering a spinal injury, Metcalf carried the ball 18 times from scrimmage, averaged 12.4 yards on 48 receptions and 20.2 yards on 14 kickoffs.

Away from football, Metcalf was not comfortable.

"I felt I'd been cheated in the NFL," he said. "I felt I didn't get some recognition I deserved -- financial and press-wise. I had no control over that, but I was beating myself over it."

In March 1986, he was busted (for possession of cocaine) and "put myself in rehab {for 90 days}." He summoned Eric from school to explain himself; Eric later visited the rehab center in New York.

"He wanted me to see what the place was like," Eric said, "so I would never get into that situation. We talked a lot about it. He told me not to let it bother me. He told me not to let it get me down. We've always been close, but we opened up and expressed our feelings like we never had done before."

Later that week, Eric finished fifth in the Southwest Conference long-jump championship with his worst performance of the season; two weeks after that, he won the NCAA title, with a career-best 27 feet, one-half inch.

If he can match or exceed 27 feet next year, Eric will participate in the Olympic trials. The 1988 Games in Seoul would conflict with his senior season at Texas. Short-term, he would love to crack the Olympics; for a career, he covets the NFL.

Terry let Eric choose his school (both parents preferred Notre Dame), and will offer the same freedom for the future. He now is trying to set a more inspiring example.

"The real rehabilitation," he said, "is not in the treatment centers. The real deal is when you get out. Because you're safe there. No drugs anywhere. No things you might have to deal with, on a daily basis, that might upset you. Or cause you to get drunk or get high. They're not there.

"The counselors used to tell me: 'You've changed, but New York hasn't. Or D.C. hasn't changed. Those things you left will be there. Those problems you ran from will still be there.' " Change in Attitude

Eric had grown up with his mother in Seattle. When she separated from her husband in the early '80s (she and Terry never married), Eric joined his father in Arlington. By then, Terry had married and started a second family, from which he has a 7-year-old son.

Like so many athletes -- almost exactly like his father, in fact -- Eric slumped in the classroom at Texas. Last summer, he thought it might cost him his eligibility this season.

"The national publicity kinda made him wake up," Terry said. "We spent a week together this summer, and I could sense a different perspective. He was saying: 'If I make it.' Before, it had been: 'When I make it' and 'I'm gonna be rich.'

"He saw Jeff Ward, an all-America kicker, get cut. Some others on the team he felt should have made it {in the NFL} aren't making it. He was realizing: 'Hey, there's no guarantee.' "

Terry is part of a group called Super Teams that counsels troubled youngsters. At Howard, he is in classes with players his son's age.

"I'm not mad anymore," he said. "I figured at the time {he was let go by the Redskins} that a football-related job was the only thing I could do. I've got a lot more to give than I ever knew.

"School enhances what I have to give {the youngsters he counsels and also his son}. I'm not just talking the talk; I'm walking the walk. People see you walking and talking, they say: 'This is the way we've gotta go.' "