McCartney's Struggles an Example for Teammates - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

McCartney's Struggles an Example for Teammates

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MORGANTOWN -

Ivan McCartney heard it all. His was no situation in which the criticism came from fans or media and could simply be droned out. The criticism McCartney faced came from his coaches and if he wanted to rid himself of it, he had to listen.

Not long before the junior receiver was streaking down the middle of the field, hauling in a 52-yard pass from his quarterback in the season opener, McCartney was a question mark for the West Virginia football team.

Is he healthy? Would he qualify academically? Would he even be a part of the team? And if so, could he be counted on?

That last question is the one that struck the Miami, Fla. native the most over the summer months and it is the one that became most difficult to answer.

His position coach, and offensive coordinator, Shannon Dawson called McCartney inconsistent during camp and said he wouldn't waste time on a player who may or may not even get himself eligible to play in the fall.

Until he showed that he could get his act together in the classroom and bring up his grades to the point that he would join the team in the fall, he was an afterthought on the depth chart.

"It was motivation," McCartney said Tuesday. "No one wants to have their coaches have that perspective of them, so I just had to do something to get that out of their mindset."

What he did was clean up the issues he was having academically and pull himself together on the field to show his coaches that they could depend on him when he was needed.

Now, Dawson isn't wasting time on the 6-foot-2 receiver, but rather investing it.

McCartney admits that there was a time in which he felt like no one believed he would be a part of this 2012 Mountaineers squad except himself. He maintained faith that he would give his situation a positive outcome, despite at times feeling like the only possible result would be negative.

"It did get to that point, but I stayed prayed up," McCartney says. "I know that nobody has my back – God has my back and I had the faith in him and I had faith in myself to keep pushing forward."

It wasn't a simple process, and if you ask him, there was no specific time in which he saw the switch flip and knew he had moved on.

"I can't really pinpoint [it]," he says. "Sometimes things have to happen for someone to realize their mistakes and grow. I felt like that's all it was. I had to be an example. I'm not glad it happened, but I'm glad where I'm at now and I'm glad that I learned from my mistakes and I'm moving forward now."

This isn't just a wide receiver talking. It's not just the individual. His coaches have shown their trust by putting him in the game day lineup and counting on him to make plays in an offense that has no real shortage of options to do so. His teammates, who helped him through the process in the first place, support him on a daily basis to continue to progress.

"I think his biggest growth has been mentally," running back Shawne Alston says. "I think sometimes the coaches get on him or the strength staff will get on him and he'll get down a little bit, but now you see him everyday, he's smiling. He's ready to go everyday and he's just a totally different dude mentally."

McCartney says conversations with his father and with his high school coach, former WVU linebacker Damon Cogdell, helped him through the adversity he faced and gave him guidance. But it was another person, faced with a similar situation, who pushed him from right inside the WVU program.

"Me and J.D. [Woods], we talk all the time," says McCartney. "If no one's on the team, he's a self-motivator. He knows how to motivate himself and just by watching him motivate himself, it rubs off on everybody else and it really rubbed off on me to learn how to motivate myself. I'm glad to have someone like J.D. to look up to."

He says that he had to be the example for the team. Surely he would have rather not put himself in line to bear that burden, but because of his actions, McCartney was the example of what not to do before then showing his teammates how to overcome it.

His hope is that while he went through his own trials, those around him kept a close eye on what it looked like and will understand as they go through their careers that they do not want to know what it feels like.

"Just to handle your business when it needs to be handled," McCartney says of the lesson others can learn. "Don't wait until the last minute to do anything or don't dig a hole for themselves. Just do what they have to do and take care of their responsibilities."

McCartney's quarterback, Geno Smith, has been with him since high school. He could see the stress on his receiver's face and in his demeanor as he fought out of that hole he had dug himself. Now that he has reached the surface, Smith is thrilled about the possibilities that he brings to the team.

"I think things just turned around for him and that's just a huge blessing for us as a team and as an offense," says Smith. "He's a huge weapon and we need him in order to be a really good offense."

With health issues behind him, McCartney pushes aside the obstacles that just a short time ago blocked his path. His focus now is on making himself and his team better.

"I feel great," he says. "It's still step-by-step, but I feel like I'm going to be better than I was last year and the year before last."

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