Advice from cousin has helped McCartney in 2011
Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 00:09
A lot of young football players can only turn to their parents when they're struggling on or off the field.
West Virginia wide receiver Ivan McCartney has the benefit of being able to go to his cousin, New England Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco.
McCartney recalled one conversation he had with Ochocinco last year that really stood out to him.
"One day I called him because I was very homesick, and with him going to Oregon State and that being so far away from Miami, I asked him how he dealt with being so far away from home," McCartney said. "The one thing he told me that motivated me was that (when he was in school) he had one dream and that was to play in the NFL, and that you can't let nothing get in your way of accomplishing that dream."
It's a nice advantage for McCartney to have, knowing someone close to him has already had to experience a lot of the things he's going through at West Virginia.
And, of course, he's modeled his game after Ochocinco a little bit.
"Ever since I started playing organized football my seventh-grade year, I watched Chad. That's how I learned how to run my routes," he said. "I'm not like most people who played football when they were younger, so I would always watch him and mimic what he does."
After not receiving a lot of playing time as a freshman, McCartney came into his second season determined to make more of an impact.
That's something he's been able to do in the Mountaineers' first two games of the year. He's currently tied for the team lead, with nine catches to go with 110 yards and a team-best two touchdowns.
"Last year, my chances were slim and I didn't see the field much and when I did, I was either blocking or just being a decoy," he said. "Now I'm approaching the game with a lot more enthusiasm, a lot more courage and I feel more confident."
But even though he's been able to have success this early, McCartney knows there's still a lot of work left to be done for him to not only put together a decent season, but even just to stay on the field with the talented group of West Virginia receivers.
"I have Ryan Nehlen and Bradley Starks behind me, and they're great receivers, and at any given time, I could lose that position," McCartney said. "Last year I sat behind and I watched and I learned and I just have to take advantage of every opportunity that I have."
The Miami, Fla., native caught a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of WVU's win over Norfolk State Saturday, and although it struggled in the first half, the offense showed glimpses of the high-scoring potential that it can have week in and week out.
When McCartney the Mountaineer offense is clicking, it can look similar to the way Ochocinco and the Patriots looked in its season opener, when they put up more than 500 yards through the air en route to a win.
"Watching that, I wanted to be a part of it. I want to be a part of something like that one day," McCartney said. "And I feel like we can do that here with Geno as our quarterback, with Coach Holgorsen and the rest of the coaching staff and the players we have here."