By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
Because he has been consistently inconsistent in football and the classroom, West Virginia University wide receiver Ivan McCartney’s place on this season’s team is in jeopardy.
A cousin of flamboyant professional Chad Johnson (Ochocinco), McCartney’s football abilities are unquestioned, but his approach to getting the most out of them has made him a perplexing problem for the coaching staff.
In fact, it would seem from what offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson and quarterback Geno Smith said this week, that he is one of the four or so players who are facing academic problems as summer school comes to an end with their eligibility in question at the moment.
“He’s just an inconsistent guy right now. Not just in football, but a lot of aspects of life. Grades, academics, that comes first, and that’s why right now he’s in the situation he’s in,” Dawson said when he was brought up on Saturday.
Smith had hinted at the same thing during Friday’s interviews after coach Dana Holgorsen refused to allow McCartney to be interviewed by the media.
“We have seen flashes from him,” Smith said. “The thing with him is not talent. It’s his consistency. I’ve preached to him in order to be a great player you have to be consistently great. You can’t be good and then bad. If you weigh it out it is average. It’s all based on his work ethic.”
With questions about his eligibility, he hasn’t been getting the reps he needs to reach the level he should be playing at.
“We’re not going to waste reps on a guy when we don’t know know if he’s going to be eligible or not,” Dawson said. “Right now, he’s not doing anything. Basically, he’s done nothing. Does he have the talent? Yes, he does. My challenge to him would just be — he has to be more consistent and all that, but he’s got to be more consistent in a couple aspects of life in general.”
“It’s all down to him. He has it in him,” Smith said. “We wouldn’t have recruited him if he didn’t. He was one of the top guys coming out of high school. He has the ability. He just has to use it on the field and be more consistent.”
Holgorsen indicated there could be other academic problems coming.
“Guys are still in school, and they still have another week of school. There are a couple of guys that need to finish strong from an academic standpoint. That could happen, but if we retained all of our guys and signed all of our guys, we’d be in much better shape than we were last year. I’m not prepared to say that yet, because three or four guys won’t make it, and there are a handful of guys still taking classes,” the coach said.
McCartney, out of the same Miramar (Fla.) High that produced Smith two years earlier, caught 40 passes for 585 yards and 3 touchdowns last season, starting 10 games. He was third on the team in receptions behind Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin.
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When you have talent, coaches will find a place to play you, even if it takes a while.
That’s the lesson Shaq Petteway has learned.
He came out of Steubenville High a linebacker, but as a true freshman last year the coaches felt he fit better at safety.
He showed he could play the position, but with a change in coaching philosophy on defense this year, with a 3-4 being installed, Petteway along with the other safeties Terrance Garvin and Wes Tonkery were moved by defensive coordinator Joe DeForest to star linebacker, which is sort of combination safety and outside linebacker.
It didn’t take long, however, for the linebacker to come back out in Petteway, and he was rushed off to yet another position, Sam linebacker, which is one of the two inside linebackers.
“If you have talent, we will find a place for you to play,” DeForest said.
There were no complaints from Petteway.
“They told me it was a move that’s going to help me get on the field,” Petteway said. “So I was all for it.”
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One major difference between this year’s camp and last year’s is the fact that there are five quarterbacks available, including former Fairmont State starter Logan Moore, who transferred in to see if he could play at the top level.
A year ago there were only two quarterback, starter Geno Smith and backup Paul Millard, and that meant a lot more reps for Smith than he really needed.
“Having that many quarterbacks alleviates the every down throwing Geno had to do last year and long term should really help us. We can get better from drill standpoint and not wear out Geno’s arm,” Holgorsen said.
Smith concurred wholeheartedly, while also making an interesting revelation.
“It saves some on my arm. Sometimes I was running the scout team because we didn’t have many arms. Now I’m just taking my normal reps. It’s good to have those guys out there and in the meeting room,” he said.
That would probably have made him the best scout team quarterback in America last year.
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ng to Holgorsen, there are “about 79 or 80” scholarship players in camp, even though four freshmen failed to qualify academically.
The number is up from the 70 players carried last year but still not at the NCAA limit of 85, and it can fall further as Holgorsen has said that there are as many as four veteran players still trying to qualify through summer school.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.