FORT WORTH, Texas — Colton McKivitz sticking around for his senior season was not so secretively one of the best things to happen to West Virginia University football since Neal Brown took over as the Mountaineer head coach, and McKivitz’s last game turned out to be one of the bright spots in what ended as a 5-7 season though at times seemed destined for much worse.
Friday’s game — a somewhat unexpected 20-17 win at TCU — was McKivitz’s last in a Mountaineers uniform, and it was fitting that once the clock hit zeros he and most of the WVU players went to celebrate with the Mountaineer fans who made the trip to Texas for the 2019 season finale.
WVU’s players formed a line to shake hands and exchange high-fives and hugs with fans starting on their own sideline and snaking around the back of the end zone at Amon G. Carter Stadium toward the visitors locker room.
Near the end of the line, with McKivitz close to taking his last steps on a football field as a WVU player, someone in the crowd began to shout his name.
There was a man waving a cell phone at McKivitz with a picture of a dead deer the man was obviously trying to show off to the standout WVU offensive tackle.
McKivitz lit up, stuck around to talk to the man for a moment then finished his victory lap en route to the Mountaineer locker room.
When asked who that person was later during his media availability, McKivitz lit up again.
“That was Coach Wickline!” McKivitz said. “That was Kelby’s father. It was a nine-point.”
Coach Wickline is Joe Wickline, the WVU offensive line coach as recently as the 2018 season. When Brown took over at West Virginia prior to this season, Wickline wasn’t one of the coaches brought back on the staff. That created a potentially very awkward situation for Kelby — Kelby Wickline, West Virginia’s other starting senior offensive tackle this season — who was also playing in his final game on Friday at TCU.
“I think the biggest part is [Joe Wickline] wanted to see Kelby play,” McKivitz said. “I think that was one of the coolest thing was him getting the opportunity to see Kelby play. [Kelby is] a coach’s son and I’ve seen it through my role models [now that] their boys are in high school playing. They kind of stepped down as a coach and wanted to watch their boys play. I think Coach Wickline wanted to do the same thing. Wick’s a good dude. I love him.”
With his senior season now over, the next football for McKivitz will come in the form of draft preparation. That starts for him when the calendar changes to 2020. Between now and then, however, McKivitz said he wants to relax at his family home in Ohio. He definitely wants to go deer hunting with his dad, and possibly even his former offensive line coach.
“[Wickline] has got his own little place in Mississippi is where he is living now,” McKivitz said. “He has built his own little cabin and garage and that thing. His old place was in Oklahoma so I’m sure he was there [to get the previously mentioned deer]. He said he was in a deer blind for an hour then he got it. He was rubbing it in pretty good. I told him that now with the season over I’m going to have some time. Maybe I’ll hook up a deer hunt with him. I’m sure there will be some visiting going on but I’m looking forward to spending some time with the family and some time in the woods with the old man.
“Once I kind of take in a little bit of the season and take some time to relax — I’ll probably spend a little time at home. It has been awhile since I’ve been able to do that. I’ll get with Coach Mike [Joseph, the WVU strength coach] and work with him, and then obviously once the first of the year hits it’s go time.”