Sometimes in the game of college football you have to grow up fast.
That was definitely the case for redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Colton McKivitz a season ago.
Slated to open the season as a swing tackle that would serve as the next man off the bench, he quickly realized that those plans weren’t going to last long.
That’s because starting left tackle Yodny Cajuste went down with a knee injury after the first drive in the season opener against Missouri.
McKivitz recalls looking at Cajuste on the training table and a rush of emotions swept through him.
“Oh boy,” he said to himself.
McKivitz had expected to see the field but not this much and then offensive line coach Ron Crook made the call to slide the redshirt freshman over to left tackle although most of his work had come at right.
“I thought it was getting real. It was kind of a surreal moment and everything stopped and I just thought that it was my time,” he said.
It wasn’t an easy introduction either to college football as McKivitz would line up against Charles Harris, who would be selected with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. But McKivitz held his own and emerged from the game with a sky-high confidence level.
So high in fact, that he admitted got a little too excited about one performance. And that brought him to a valuable lesson the following week against Youngstown State, who also happened to have two NFL future draft picks on their roster in Derek Rivers and Avery Moss.
Consistency is the key and that second game didn’t go quite as well.
“It was the negative learning experience and it kind of reset me. I realized I wasn’t as good as I thought I was in the first game and I had to look at what I had to do to get back to that level,” he said.
McKivitz would start ten games during his freshman season and appeared in all 13. But this spring his goal was to become more consistent in all areas. Mission accomplished.
“It was about what can I got on knowing what’s coming and the different ways to prepare,” he said.
Slated to open the season as the right tackle for the Mountaineers, McKivitz is back in a spot where he feels much more comfortable and his sets are simply better. In his second year on the field, McKivitz is excited to take the next step in his blossoming career.
He has spent time working on extensively on his quickness of the ball as well as eyeing and spying. His focus has been if he can get out before the guy across him, he’s most likely going to win that matchup and help his team by doing his job.
“I’m not expecting to be the great tackle in the world as a redshirt sophomore but it’s just about getting out there, playing and being that consistent tackle. That’s a major key for me,” he said.