McKivitz on Year 2: ‘I Know What I’m Doing’
Redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Colton McKivitz was “baptized by fire” a year ago when he was thrust into the starting lineup Week 1. Now, a year later, he’s got it all under control.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Colton McKivitz watched from the sideline as Yodny Cajuste hobbled off after just nine offensive snaps against Missouri last season. It was Week 1, and his number had just been called. He answered.
McKivitz was tasked with blocking one of the best defensive ends in the country all day, and he did a bang up job. From then on, he became a fixture among West Virginia’s offensive line, a group that now looks to replace some of its best players as the 2017 season gears up.
“We lost some really good players so we have our hands full,” offensive line coach Joe Wickline said this summer. “What you do find is that you challenge the guys that are coming back that are the guys that have played before and say ‘Look you have a different role now.’ “
McKivitz is expected already to be one of those leaders. It’s a role that he doesn’t take lightly, and it’s one that he feels he’s already beginning to fill.
“Last year, I was just trying to figure things out. My freshman camp was a lot of standing on the sidelines trying to learn stuff and last year’s was building on what I know and filling in a role behind Marcell (Lazard),” he said. “This year I know the schemes, I know what I’m doing and I’m trying to teach (freshman offensive linemen) Tyler Thurmond and the other guys what’s expected and how to run the offense.”
Cajuste, who watched McKivitz thrive in his absence, agreed.
“Colton was rushed onto the spot, but he showed everybody. He proved everybody wrong, all the doubters,” Cajuste said. “He played exceptionally well and that helped him out a lot. It also helped me out a lot just from watching him. We talk to each other and we try to make each other better every day.”
The offensive line will be tasked with keeping Will Grier on his feet and paving lanes for Preseason All-Big 12 running back Justin Crawford and the slew of backup running backs to come through West Virginia’s stable.
McKivitz knows that Year Two brings with it another opportunity to step up and be counted on. He’s ready to answer once again.
“It’s a lot better. Last year it was a lot of, ‘What the heck is going on.’ This year it’s a lot better,” he said. “You’re more comfortable, you’re confident with (redshirt senior offensive linemen) Grant Lingafelter next to you, you’re sticking with (redshirt sophomore offensive linemen) Matt Jones’ calls, and now it’s just going out and playing and having fun.”