West Virginia receiver Ivan McCartney’s status with the team is murky after the junior did not travel to Saturday’s game at Oklahoma State. ( James Lang-US PRESSWIRE)
Coach Dana Holgorsen confirmed Monday morning that junior Ivan McCartney has left the West Virginia program for “personal reasons,” becoming the second receiver to depart within a four-day span.
Below is Saturday’s postgame story from Stillwater, Okla., in which Holgorsen was reluctant to address McCartney’s status even as teammates suggested his career at WVU was finished.
West Virginia’s receiving corps was already down one player when promising true freshman Travares Copeland left the team Thursday. Then came Saturday’s revelation that junior Ivan McCartney, a starter the previous week against TCU, didn’t make the trip to Stillwater, Okla.
The postgame spectacle of “Where’s Ivan” made coach Dana Holgorsen chippy.
“Is Ivan McCartney injured?” asked a reporter.
“No,” the coach said.
“Do you have any reason why he didn’t make the trip?”
“No,” the coach repeated.
Minutes later, when another reporter sought clarity on the status of McCartney, Holgorsen became irked.
“Why are you worried about it?” the coach replied. “I’m worried about the guys that are here wanting to play. There’s a whole lot more important things to talk about than one person.”
Based on Holgorsen’s vague responses, McCartney doesn’t want to play. But does that mean McCartney has left the program or simply been left behind for one game as part of a disciplinary action?
WVU offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, who coaches the receivers, followed Holgorsen’s company line by saying: “We’re playing with guys who want to play. That’s about as simple as it gets.”
Junior receiver Stedman Bailey, a high school teammate of McCartney’s in Miami, called Copeland’s exit “a distraction” and suggested McCartney won’t be returning either.
“We’ve just go to move forward without those guys, and that’s how we’re going to do it,” Bailey said.
“For somebody to leave the team in the middle of the season, that’s not good at all. But we don’t need no dead weight on the team that’s not going to come out and help us try to win or be bringing negative energy.”
Said senior receiver Tavon Austin of Copeland and McCartney: “They had their reasons for why they want to leave. I like both of them, and I don’t question it at all. But we’ve got to come in and do it with the people we’ve got.”
McCartney, a four-star prospect coming out of Miramar High, made 49 catches for 595 yards in 2011 but had caught only nine passes for 112 yards this season.
NEHLEN, ARLIA STEP UP
The attrition at receiver meant more playing time for West Virginia natives Ryan Nehlen and Conner Arlia, and the pair more than doubled their combined season production to date.
Nehlen caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Geno Smith in the third quarter, the highlight of the senior’s four-catch came for 26 yards. Nehlen entered the day with two catches for 12 yards.)
Arlia had 25 yards on three receptions, two of which were sprawling sideline grabs that withstood replay reviews. Before Saturday, the redshirt freshman had one catch for 14 yards.
Holgorsen chalked up the personnel changes to offensive coaches being displeased with the effort of other receivers in recent weeks.
“I didn’t think our effort was where it needed to be, didn’t think we were playing with 11 people that it meant a lot to, so we changed some things,” Holgorsen said. “It was good to see Cody Clay get in there and play a bunch, and Ryan Nehlen get in there and make some plays because it means a lot to him, and Conner Arlia because it means a lot to him.
“If we can get about 70 guys that it means that much to, we’ll play better.”