West Virginia wide receiver Stedman Bailey stretches with Mark Smith, assistant director of strength and conditioning, during practice Friday at Barry University.
West Virginia receiver Ivan McCartney and some of his teammates found a way home for the holidays.McCartney and 18 of those Florida native teammates, to be exact.The news that WVU would play in the Orange Bowl Wednesday night exacted quite a response from the 6-foot-3 sophomore from Miramar, Fla."I jumped for joy," McCartney said.
This season, he jumped for pass after pass thrown by Geno Smith, another Miramar product. After a 2010 freshman season with one carry for 2 yards and one catch for 4, McCartney showed serious exponential growth with 47 receptions for 572 yards and three touchdowns.He's behind Tavon Austin (89, 1,063 and four) and fellow Miramar grad Stedman Bailey (67, 1,197 and 11) on the Mountaineer season reception list, but has almost twice as many catches as the team's No. 4 receiver, Devon Brown (24).On Friday, McCartney and the rest of the Mountaineers' Florida contingent took to their home soil via the Barry University soccer fields for practice.
"This is a dream come true," McCartney said beforehand. "A lot of athletes don't get the chance to go home and play after leaving. I can't believe this. Can't even describe it."McCartney arrived in South Florida on Christmas Eve and has been there ever since. His home, he said, is a "5-minute walk" to Sun Life Stadium, where the Orange Bowl will be played."I had about 70 calls," McCartney said upon learning of the BCS bowl. "It's been crazy. I'll have 20 to 30 friends and family at the game."Expectations?
"No expectations," he said. "Just going out and playing."Mostly playing the Z receiver position, known for physical play, McCartney will see a Clemson secondary ranked No. 37 nationally in pass defense, allowing an average of 202.9 yards. The Tigers are No. 56 in pass efficiency with a 127.4 rating. (Alabama leads the nation in the category at 83.97.)"They show a lot of man coverage," McCartney said. "The cornerbacks look big, but you can't tell until you get on the field."Clemson is expected to start Coty Sensabaugh and Bashaud Breeland, both listed at 6-foot and 185 pounds, at the cornerback positions.
McCartney said the coaches broke down film "a lot" before making the trip and he sees "nothing but opportunities" in the game."Everything looks good," said the receiver. "We want to get this game won for the seniors."ORANGE PEELS: Clemson sophomore wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the team's second-leading pass catcher, appears in line to play after a mild concussion suffered in a car wreck. "I think he's going to be fine," said Tiger coach Dabo Swinney. ... Clemson is practicing at Nova Southeastern University, which, like Barry University, where WVU is practicing, doesn't have a football team. Both Orange Bowl teams are practicing on soccer fields. ... WVU had film sessions Friday morning on offense, defense and special teams before taking practice in the afternoon. The Mountaineers had no outings Friday evening, while Clemson had a team dinner outing at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse. Both teams have family beach parties on New Year's Eve. WVU will celebrate at the Fontainebleau Beachfront. ... Of 16 ESPN college football analysts, only three - Todd Blackledge, Jenn Brown and Lou Holtz - predicted WVU to defeat Clemson, according to a story posted by the network.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, email@example.com
or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.