McCartney looked to teammates to work through adversity
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 07:09
When the West Virginia football team’s depth chart was released toward the end of August, there was one notable absence on it.
In a matter of months, junior wide receiver Ivan McCartney went from the Mountaineers’ third-leading receiver in 2011 to a player who was lost in the mix and fighting for playing time when they opened the season against Marshall.
That’s when he had a realization.
"It was motivation," McCartney said. "No one wants to have their coaches have that perspective of them, so I just had to do something to get out of that mindset.
"I slacked off a little bit, but my job was to get back on track and do anything possible to help the team.
McCartney finished camp strongly, working his way back into rotation and earning playing time against Marshall. He only made one catch, but it was a 52-yard strike from senior quarterback Geno Smith that helped lead the WVU offense to a late touchdown.
That catch was the first time McCartney, who battled injuries throughout the second half of his sophomore season, had more than 20 yards in a game since he caught four passes for 61 yards against Louisville on Nov. 5.
"I think Ivan was kind of down on himself," Smith said. "He wants to be a starter, and that’s good because you want guys who want to make plays. I was on the sidelines telling him that when he got in the game and got his number called, he needed to be ready, and he was."
The 6-foot-2 receiver out of Miramar, Fla., said at times he doubted himself, but he always knew that he would be able to work his way back onto the field.
"In the beginning nobody thought I would be playing this year," he said. "But I had faith in myself, so I knew I’d be out there doing it once again like I did last year. I just had to fight and push a little harder.
"I had to be an example (for younger teammates). I’m not glad it happened, but I’m glad I learned from my mistakes and I’m moving forward."
During those tough times, McCartney turned to his teammates for guidance.
One was a receiver who fought through his fair share of adversity before emerging during spring practice as a potential playmaker – senior wide receiver J.D. Woods.
Woods was there when McCartney needed him, providing leadership and picking him up when he thought he needed it.
"I’m always in his ear. I know I believe in him, and I know he believes in himself," Woods said. "Ivan has it all. The main thing for him is to keep it in his head and keep it going. He can be a great player."
He’s still working to get back into the spot on the rotation where he wants to be but the hard part is over. He’s already started gaining the trust of his coaches; now he has to go and make the plays.
Through it all he had no doubts that West Virginia was the place for him. The struggles he went through will help him become the player he wants to be.
"Right now it’s a feeling I’ve never felt before. I’m excited," McCartney said. "I’m just waiting patiently on my turn, and when it comes, I’m going to take advantage of it."