MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–West Virginia University’s redshirt sophomore Yodny Cajuste suffered a knee injury in the Mountaineers’ 26-11 victory over Missouri on Saturday afternoon, opening the window for redshirt freshman Colton McKivitz to get ample playing time during his collegiate debut.
It was a much anticipated debut for the fiery tackle, who got the job done.
“…Colton McKivitz went in there and did his job against a first-round draft pick,” WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He went in there and played his tail off.”
The Jacobsburg, Ohio native did a good job containing the 6-foot-4, 260-pound weak-side defensive end. Charles Harris managed just two tackles against the Mountaineers.
“Obviously, you didn’t hear Harris’ name or number called too much today so obviously that was good,” redshirt senior center Tyler Orlosky said. “He had an opportunity to step up and did.”
Orlosky wasn’t overly concerned with having McKivitz by his side.
“We trusted Colton going in to fill the spot,” Orlosky added. “He did good.”
The 6-foot-7, 304-pound McKivitz kept his cool when the pressure turned up against one of the country’s best defensive lines.
“I think he did well considering the opponent he was going against,” offensive line coach Ron Crook said. Got his feet wet. The biggest thing was he didn’t lose his mind. He didn’t stop thinking. He didn’t lose his focus. He stayed with what he was coached. He stayed with what he believed in. And that will give you a chance against a real good opponent.”
McKivitz credits the two weeks of preparation for his success.
“I think our game plan, we had two weeks and the mock week last week, all the film we put in got me prepared for all the stunts they had and all that,” he said. “Just went out and played. I mean it was fast but I figured it out quickly.”
The former Union Local High School star was highly regarded since signing with WVU. So what is it that makes him so special to his coaches?
“He’s long, strong,” Crook said. “He’s athletic. He does some things that come natural to him that you love to see. Again he played more than we probably wanted to at this point. At this stage, I’m really happy with him.”
For McKivitz, it’s just about proving his worth.
“I think you have to have the right mindset going into it,” he said. “I’m going to prove I’m going to be that guy. I’m just going all in.”
With Cajuste sustaining a season ending ACL tear, Mountaineer fans will be seeing a lot more of McKivitz in the future.
Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS