Colton McKivitz’ Talent Apparent Early At WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — You knew Colton McKivitz was special almost from the moment you saw him.
Standing beside him was like being caught in an eclipse of the sun, so big was he. He shouldn’t have had a number on his back. It should have been an address because he was big as a house.
At the start he was small town shy, like most redshirt freshmen are. But unlike most redshirt freshmen, he was thrown into the fire.
In the second quarter of the Missouri opene in 2016r, starting left tackle Yodny Cajuste suffered a season-ending injury and McKivitz was thrust into the lineup. At 6-foot-7 and 312 pounds they almost needed a fork lift to move him there, though.
He responded with a big game against Missouri, which stunned everyone.
“He went in and did his job,” then-coach Dana Holgorsen said. “Guys are going to go down and you have to step up.”
It was a special performance, but the next week, starting against Youngstown State, he went back to being a lost freshman. Maybe it came too easily, too quickly … or maybe he just had a bad day.
It could have crushed a young kid but McKivitz was too special for that. He lost the starting spot but he learned a life lesson and grew into a fifth-round draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers in Saturday’s draft by the time he finished.
McKivitz was the second Mountaineer picked, being taken directly after the Carolina Panthers took former WVU safety Kenny Robinson, who played this spring with the XFL.
No longer shy, McKivitz had become a team leader at WVU, co-Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year and a a third team Associated Press All-American in his senior year.
Somehow, that child who was as big as a house, had managed to grow … not necessarily physically, although there was the changes that come from being obsessive in the weight room, but as a person.
Matt Moore, his offensive line coach last year, had a tough time with his offensive line last year, but he was amazed at what McKivitz did both on the field and off. It seemed McKivitz was on the field all the time.
“I left him in the game until he told me he couldn’t play any more,” Moore said. “He was that kind of player.”
And he didn’t stop off the field. McKivitz became something of a player-coach, according to Moore.
“He had his own position meeting every day 20 minutes before my position meeting,” Moore revealed recently on the MetroNews Statewide Sportsline. “He brought the running backs in, he brought the o-linemen in and he would go over blitz. Every different day he had it set up what he wanted to watch with those guys. That’s just the kind of leader he was.”
He had it all and that’s what the NFL saw. He had size. He had agility, so much agility that he almost opted to play basketball instead of football in high school.
He had started out in a small, private school — East Richland Christian High School in St. Clairsville, Ohio — before transferring as a sophomore.
“When I transferred to Union Local, I wasn’t even thinking about football,” said McKivitz. “I was primarily going to play basketball, but the (football) coaches talked to me about playing and I decided to give it a try.”
He hadn’t played any organized football until then but it proved to be the right move.
“It’s really just crazy when you take a while to think about it,” McKivitz said.
McKivitz was not just a star player and a leader, but he was a great teammate, especially with those who like the outdoors for he was an avid hunter whether it was deer, turkey or onrushing defensive ends.
He and Josh Sills were hunting brothers, introducing Sills to duck hunting.
“My dad got me into hunting. I was about 6 or 7 when I had my first hunting safety course. Then we got into duck hunting. I’m in it because why would I want to be in an office,” he said.
Now the ducks are on the pond, so to speak, for McKivitz as he enters the NFL.
The NFL has always had success with WVU offensive linemen, starting in the first draft when George Halas made Mountaineer tackle Joe Stydahar the Chicago Bears’ first-ever draft selection in 1936, setting him down the road to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In the last decade the Mountaineers have had tackle Selvish Capers, guard Mark Glowinski and Cajuste all drafted, along with McKivitz, while before that they sent Bruce Bosley, Brian Jozwiak, Mike Compton, Rich Braham and Solomon Page into the NFL through the draft.