GREENVILLE – Colton McCartney, son of David and Jodi McCartney signed to play football for the NCAA DII Seton Hill University Griffins.
A high school injury kept the 2021 Greenville Senior High School graduate from pursuing his dream of playing college ball out of high school.
“It was a dream and at a point it went from a dream to a nightmare – it was every day,” said McCartney. “I would go to bed, I would wake up and I wasn’t done with football, I didn’t want to be done with football, I couldn’t see it being done.”
Following graduation, McCartney took a year off from pursuing his education and the sport he loves to get his priorities in order and physically heal. After a year, McCartney looked to a two-year junior college program to try and jumpstart his football career.
“We took a big leap of faith to go to a junior college and see what was out there for me,” he shared. “The hard work on the field and in the classroom became my mentality that I wasn’t going to give up on football – I knew that I would get an opportunity.”
McCartney made the most of his two seasons playing junior college football for Hocking College in Nelsonville, OH where he played guard his freshman season, moved to center his second year, and served as a team captain.
“When I first started going and practicing there I was a little light and they weren’t sure I was going to make it,” McCartney said. “I managed to get some weight on, worked really hard and I remember telling them ‘I just want to make the bus, I just want to make the bus my freshman year’.”
“Then the photo day comes around and they handed me my jersey and they say, ‘Congratulations you made the bus’ and just from that media day to where I was to be in the starting rotation by week one it was something I never really expected.”
“It was a very good team that year,” added McCartney. “We went 7-3 and just to be competing on that scale, on that caliber of a program was very exciting. I was very blessed to receive that opportunity to grow in that season and then play this season, develop in a new position – now it’s taking on the rest of the world.”
McCartney leaned heavily on his Faith in God to navigate his troubling year.
“I want to thank God, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for never giving up on me,” he said. “I had some resentment, I had some frustration but He turned that into a desire and a passion for me to set out and do what I believed was for me.”
“It depends where your line between coincidence and Divine falls. For me we were starting to get offers, starting to get some interest back in November but nothing was coming back that was a hard fit, nothing came back that completely felt like it was the perfect place for me.”
“A couple weeks ago I had come home over break to help my dad with a project and we were driving to the job site and I got a call from the head coach,” McCartney continued. “He talked on the phone with me for 45 minutes and it felt good. I got off the phone and my dad looked at me and said, ‘this is going to be the one’ and with everything that has happened between my senior year and where I am now, as much as I have Faith, I have a little bit of caution, I have a little bit of doubt that it is all going to work out. We went on some other visits and this weekend we went up there it was the one.”
“Just from where Colton was down and out when he was injured thinking that he wouldn’t be able to play football anymore, to watch him rehab, go off to junior college, work hard, become a starter, then be named team captain, and then graduate the program in 18 months instead of 24 months with a near perfect GPA, to see him get picked up by a Division II program that’s in a great football conference, and even better education wise – mom and I are proud of him,” said McCartney’s father, David.
Now, three years removed from high school graduation including two years of junior college, McCartney plans to major in English Education and will graduate with his certification to teach English at the secondary level.
“To be at a school that appreciates my academics, appreciates my athletics, and appreciates who I am as a person, I hadn’t felt it until now,” Colton stated.
At 6’2” and 300 pounds, McCartney looks to fit in at center for the Crimson and Gold Giffins football program.
“They need some veteran guys and I get to provide that being a junior college transfer,” McCartney stated. “It’s an opportunity to be able to find another step in my progression to be that much better as an athlete.”
McCartney has thoughts of coaching in his future after his playing days are complete.
“I have had ideas of coaching just as long as I have had ideas of playing,’ he said. “To me they’re one in the same and whatever I get from this sport which now is going to be an education I hope to give that back in more to anyone else who believes that they have a gift, a talent and a desire for the game of football.”
When asked how he became a captain at Hocking College, the GHS alum humbly replied,
“My freshman year I was always on time, I always gave my best effort, if I wasn’t playing it didn’t mean I wasn’t there,” McCartney said. “If I wasn’t able to practice I was at practice learning, trying to help coach, trying to be involved in the practice as much as I could. Coaches, players, everybody sees that and it’s not something I do for appreciation, it’s not something I do for recognition, it’s something I do because that’s how I want things done, I do what I believe is the right way.”
And advice to young athletes looking to advance to the college level, McCarntey shared his thoughts there also.
“To anyone who finds that adversity in their athletic career, in their progression to being who they want to be, you have to embrace it, you have to take every single second of it and you have to realize that adversity, that challenge, getting through that, everything else becomes easier,” McCartney said. “When you are so set and confident in what you want to do and how you’re going to do it, that’s 99 percent of it.”
“Next step you attack it with everything you’ve got,” he continued. “You lean on everybody who is there to support you, everybody who is there to rally around you. The support system I had between graduation and where I am signing now was tremendous. I can’t express enough how much that support means.”
McCartney took time to thank those who helped him reach his goal of playing at the next level.
“I want to thank God and I want to thank my parents David and Jodi McCartney,” Colton said. “They completely embraced me getting surgery, taking that gap year, and then what I had worked for and saved up to take that chance at junior college and get my education and hopefully play football again.”
“Thank you to my siblings Payton and Riley, one of those things that kept me going,” McCartney added. “Every time I came home it was a different feeling from when you’re stuck with siblings every day, you have to do the same chores with them, to go off and be in school. You come back and they want to talk to you, they want to go to lunch with you, it motivated me to keep going. It hurt to be away from home but to come back and be embraced meant a lot.”