Senior Ivan McCartney
wasn’t sure if he was going to return to the West Virginia football team.
After appearing in eight games, the Miami, Fla. resident left the team last season in November to deal with personal issues.
“I was always about the team,” McCartney said. “I just had a lot of things going on at that one time that I had to deal with. There were some things that I was dealing with that I didn't want to be put out there. ”
Despite not being physically with the team and his future unknown, he always considered himself a Mountaineer staying in touch with the team regularly.
“Those guys stayed in touch with me and lifted me,” he said. “We built a better relationship. Those were the brothers I never had.”
McCartney contacted West Virginia about returning, and the process to return to the field was simple: he had to come in and prove himself and work hard.
And that’s exactly what he’s prepared to do during fall camp. McCartney didn’t just maintain the shape he was in when he was away but instead put on muscle. He now thinks he’s stronger than he’s ever been.
Just a few days into camp, he’s found himself in a much different situation than the previous year. The depth at receiver is arguably as good as it’s been since before McCartney enrolled at West Virginia in 2010.
“That’s the best thing about what’s going on right now - everybody is competing for a position,” said receivers coach Lonnie Galloway. “No one has a position. We have guys that go first or second, but they know they have to show up everyday and compete.”
One advantage for McCartney is that he has more experience than any other receiver. It’s a much different situation than year’s past when he was behind guys like current NFL players Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
He had nine receptions for 112 yards in limited action last season. However, in 2011, he was much more productive with 49 receptions totaling 585 yards and three touchdowns.
“I don't really know how those guys look at me. I try to be that leader with the experience that I have,” McCartney explained.
He will also wear a new jersey number this season. He said he wanted to “start something fresh and new.” He wore No. 5 last season, but will don the No. 85 this season – a number he started wearing in high school and the number his cousin, Chad Johnson, wore in the NFL.
But McCartney isn’t concerned about any of that.
“My biggest goal is to help this team in every aspect in where we want to go,” McCartney said. “Big 12 Championship. National Championship. That’s my biggest goal right now.”