WVU’s McKivitz is QB’s protector

August 11, 2018

MORGANTOWN - Here’s a good piece of information to have in case you’re ever around West Virginia University right tackle Colton McKivitz.

He’s a big man at 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds. He’s an avid outdoorsman that knows how to hunt. And he’s a football player that moves well. So it would behoove you not to upset him.

The info is regardless of what your roster says, McKivitz isn’t from Jacobsburg, Ohio.

“Centerville, Ohio,” McKivitz said. “People always talk about the big city (of Centerville) on the other side of Columbus, but the Centerville I’m from doesn’t have a post office. So we claim Jacobsburg. But it’s definitely a small town that doesn’t compare to Morgantown or the cities I’ve played in the last couple years.”

So get it right. Just like McKivitz is trying to do.

Yes, the stars on West Virginia’s offense this season are quarterback Will Grier and receivers David Sills and Gary Jennings. But it’s up to McKivitz and company to keep Grier upright. It’s up to the offensive line to give Grier time to get the ball to Sills, Jennings and the rest of the receiving corps.

And, apparently, so far, so good.

“There is definitely an improvement,” McKivitz said. “Last year there was a lack of physicality. I think the emphasis on that this year is helping with improvement. There are running lanes and guys are playing with great effort. That’s what we talked about (Friday) in our meetings. There was great effort.

“Now we have to keep that up and, as coach (defensive coordinator Jake Spavital) always says, get one percent better. It’s becoming a physical group and we are protecting our guys.”

Depth, though, has also been a concern. Behind McKivitz, for instance, is Tyler Thurmond, a 6-4, 288-pound redshirt freshman.

“He’s getting there,” McKivitz said. “He’s kind of like where I was (as a redshirt freshman). I didn’t know what my role was and I thought I was just going to be a backup until my junior year with Marcell (Lazard) being a sophomore when I came in. That’s kind of where he’s at now.

“He just has to keep going, getting stronger, learning plays and playing with effort. I think he’s getting there. It was tough for me to be behind Marcell and Yodny (Cajuste) and Marquis Lucas when I got here. That’s kind of where he is now.”

McKivitz, meanwhile, is beginning to reap the rewards of his work to this point. Last season, he registered a season-high four domination blocks against TCU and had multiple knockdown blocks in five games. Athlon and Phil Steele magazines named him a preseason All-Big 12 second-team selection. And there are many that wonder if he might jump to the NFL after this, his redshirt junior, season.

People back home in Centerville are certainly taking note especially those at Union Local High, a school of around 480 students. The school sits about a half-hour from Wheeling.

“I went back on the week off and was able to hang out with some of the coaches I played with,” McKivitz said. “I didn’t recognize many of the guys on the football team because I’ve been here for a few years.

“But it’s nice going back because of how much you mean to them and how much they mean to you. It is definitely nice going back to recognize where you came from.”

And, yes, McKivitz knows he’s The Man when he returns home.

“Yeah, everyone is watching,” he said. “It’s a good feeling but you always have to know in the back of your mind you’re being watched and there are kids that look up to you. There’s a lot of pride concerning that.”

Of course, there is also kidding because McKivitz went to WVU rather than Ohio State.

“I always get some smack talk from Ohio State fans, but they’re always asking for a shirt or a hat so I know there’s still some allegiance to WVU,” McKivitz said with a laugh.

It’s a nice success story in part because of improvements along the way.

“Definitely maturity,” McKivitz said. “Coming from a small high school you don’t know what to expect. You go from being a big fish in a little pond, as they say. Then you get here and realize where you stand.”

These days, that’s faced with the task of protecting Grier and opening running lanes.

Front and Centerville.

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