WVU’s Colton McKivitz Cherishes The Journey As Senior Day Approaches
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — More than the degree that he has already earned, more than the victories he helped WVU earn on the football field, more than the bruises both to his body and his ego that he has endured during the learning process, the things Colton McKivitz will cherish most once his Mountaineer days are over are the memories.
It is no different than all those others who come through Morgantown, no different than the 22 seniors who rode the roller coaster that was the end of the Dana Holgorsen era into the start of the Neal Brown era.
It is those seniors who will be honored with their families on Saturday before the noon game against Oklahoma State, with McKivitz perhaps the prime example of everything that is right about a game that far too often shows us its dark side.
McKivitz is a mountain of a Mountaineer, 6-foot-7, 312 pounds from a small town right across the border in Ohio named Jacobsburg, not far from Wheeling.
“We have a post office,” he answers, then amends that to say “Actually, we’re the next town over.”
It may not be in West Virginia but it represents the small town, country way of life that is West Virginia. It’s forest land and rolling hills and lakes where a boy — or girl — bonds with Dad in the woods or in a duck blind.
You don’t talk about Kroger’s or McDonald’s there.
“If you want to go get groceries you go to Custom Killing in town. That’s a little deer/beef butcher shop. Really, you have to go 25 minutes to go to a grocery store,” McKivitz says, directing you toward St. Clairsville.
“There are some good family restaurants. Schlepp’s is right across from my high school and it’s really good,” he said.
One look at what he’s grown to from eating there and it’s the best advertising they could have.
This was a move to the big city for McKivitz when he came to Morgantown and it changed his life.
“It’s been a lot more than what I did in Union Local [High School],” he said. “It’s been quite a culture shock when I got here. Coming from a small town you don’t get these kind of experiences. To be a part of that enjoying the process is pretty neat.”
It was made easy by the men who became teammates, by former center Tyler Orlosky, who they call T.O. and remains on staff as a graduate assistant, by Josh Sills and others who would rather spend a day in the woods than a night downtown.
“The biggest thing is the relationships,” he said what he will remember most as Senior Day approaches. “I know just having T.O. [Tyler Orlosky] here for nine years or whatever it is and having him be a role model to me since I’ve been here.
“You remember most outside of playing football is the locker room and the chemistry with the guys.
The football wasn’t easy. He was thrown into the fray too quickly and, after a wonderful debut against Missouri, crashed back to earth the next week and was replaced in the lineup so he could serve a traditional apprenticeship.
Then there were three offensive line coaches along the way.
“Really, you think having three offensive line coaches is not something you want or expect, but I really think it helped the way I play and matured as an offensive lineman,” he said. “The ability to learn and have a positive outcome out of so much adversity — losses and changes of coaches — that’s going to be the biggest takeaway from my career.”
He became one of the best offensive linemen in the Big 12 and is almost certainly going to follow last year’s left tackle Yodny Cajuste into the NFL.
How will he be remembered?
As a big man with a gentle smile, fan friendly, media friendly, true to the team no matter what.
Someone suggested that he might just simply be remembered as “The Dude” , stemming from the appellation that head coach Neal Brown gives players who perform at high levels both on and off the field.
He isn’t sure about that.
“I don’t know overall if I’d be “The Dude”. There’s been some greats come through here offensive line wise. You hope to be put in with those kind of names,” he said, thinking of Cajuste and Brian Jozwiak and Dan Mozes and Bruce Bosley and Sam Huff and Rich Braham.
More than that there is something that really means a lot to McKivitz and says all you need to know about him.
“What’s nice is to have my name down on the board in the weight room,” he said. “That’s one of my shining moments here, to twice be named Iron Mountaineer. That’s the legacy I wanted to leave, to be a hard worker who would do anything for the team.
“If they want to call me ‘The Dude,’ whatever, but my legacy is as a guy who did whatever he could and played his hardest.”