“Consistent” is not a word often used to describe much of anything about the 2019 West Virginia University football team. Yet if anyone on the Mountaineers is that, it has been senior left tackle Colton McKivitz.
McKivitz and the Mountaineers (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) will have a national audience Thursday when they visit No. 12 Baylor (8 p.m. on ESPN), but even with the poor results on the field for WVU this season, there have been eyes on McKivitz like there will be when he lines up against the Bears (7-0, 4-0 Big 12).
Last offseason, McKivitz considered the possibility of leaving Morgantown for the National Football League. Of course, he opted to stay, but it was a decision he had to think about with his mentors and family.
“I talked to some of the role models in my life — my high school offensive line coach, my high school basketball coach — just talking to them on what they thought was best and then putting all that information together and making a choice out of it,” McKivitz said. “Obviously I made the right one, in my mind, I think. I was able to put on some weight and get stronger, of course, but the process of it was weighing the pros and cons of staying or leaving.”
McKivitz, listed at 6-foot-7 and 312 pounds, said he made an actual list of pros and cons when making his choice, but he wasn’t the only one.
“I did have a list, and so did my mother,” McKivitz said. “Obviously, hers was a lot longer than mine because she puts a lot more thought into that than I do because I’m more into the football side of it. She’s the business woman of the family.”
The Ohio native who didn’t play organized football until he was a sophomore in high school has almost certainly improved his draft stock with his play for West Virginia so far this season. Mountaineer offensive line coach Matt Moore said in almost any situation, if you turn on West Virginia game film, McKivitz has been the best player on the field for the WVU offense.
“He has made himself a better player,” Moore said. “He’s definitely the best player on the field when you flip on our film offensively. He’s a lot more aggressive than he was in the past. He plays a lot harder. He’s really developed his leadership skills. Technique-wise, I feel like he’s gotten better. He’s gotten stronger.
“Every [NFL] guy who comes in here to watch him I tell them, ‘Don’t talk to me about him until you watch him play this year. Then I’ll talk to you.’ Everybody who’s come through here from an NFL scout standpoint, they’re pleased with what he’s doing.”
West Virginia head coach Neal Brown has never coached against Baylor junior quarterback Charlie Brewer, but he has known him for a long time.
Brewer, who has been one of the Big 12’s best, but perhaps underrated, quarterbacks this season, has a history with Brown that goes back nearly a decade.
When Brown was the offensive coordinator at Texas Tech, Brewer’s older brother Michael, also a quarterback, was the first player who committed to Brown’s offense during his time with the Red Raiders in 2011.
“One of my favorite families I’ve ever had the opportunity to recruit,” Brown said. “Really bought into what we were doing at Texas Tech. He was my first commitment there as the offensive coordinator and really started a special class. I think we had four or five NFL players just on the offensive side.”
JOSH SILLS UPDATE
Along with McKivitz, redshirt junior Josh Sills was expected to be a leader for the WVU offensive line this season. That plan was derailed early in the season, however, when Sills missed a few games before shoulder surgery in late September ended his season.
McKivitz and Sills are pretty tight. They both come from Ohio where they were high school opponents. McKivitz recently told a story about how the first football game he ever played in was against Sills’ team during his sophomore season.
It has been tough for McKivitz to see his friend unable to help this West Virginia team, but he did offer an update on Sills during his time with the media Monday in Morgantown.
“He’s doing good,” McKivitz said. “We don’t get to see a lot of him because he’s in that recovery process, and when we’re practicing, he’s working out.
“It’s tough to see a player [hurt] like Josh. He wants to be on the field and helping the team. He’s doing good, but you hate to see it.”