Two Unlikely Mountaineers Will Play in the NFL

After a 5-7 start to the Neal Brown Era in Morgantown, Senior players will look to find success playing professionally next season.

Offensive Tackle Colton McKivitz, the Two-time All-Big 12 Honorable-Mention selection, has the size and skill needed to be successful in the NFL, but so far it appears that scouts and experts give him only an outside shot of being drafted.

Neal Brown and Matt Moore, West Virginia’s offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator, has both been extremely complimentary of McKivitz.  According to Moore, ““Every NFL guy who comes in here to watch him I tell them, ‘Don’t talk to me about him until you watch him play this year. Then I’ll talk to you.  Everybody who’s come through here from an NFL scout standpoint, they’re pleased with what he’s doing.”

However, two West Virginia Seniors appear even more likely than McKivitz to play in the NFL.  Rex Sunahara, the two-year starter for the Mountaineers at Long Snapper, is one of the very best at his position in the nation.  Josh Growden, the Graduate Transfer from LSU, where he was the Punter three seasons prior to his year in Morgantown, averaged 41.8 yards per punt and became one of the most consistent players on the West Virginia team this season.

Long Snappers and Punters are not often drafted in the NFL Draft, but it’s not unheard of.  The first pure long snapper to be picked in the NFL was Tyler Schmitt when he was selected 189th overall by the Seattle Seahawks in 2008.  Joe Cardona was drafted as a long snapper in the 5th round (166th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft.  Punters are occasionally selected in the NFL Draft, but it’s still very rare.  Former West Virginia Punter Todd Sauerbrun became the highest drafted Punter in NFL history when he was drafted in the 2nd round (56th overall) by the Chicago Bears.

WVU Head Coach Neal Brown said of Sunahara, “He’s actually one of the top pro prospects we have on our team.  The thing Rex does that’s different is he really runs well.  He was often our leading tackler on the punt team.”

Although the Mountaineers have limited Seniors considered to be NFL talent this season, Rex Sunahara, Josh Growden and Colton McKivitz will have a shot to be drafted in the NFL Draft and will almost certainly be signed as undrafted free agent if their names aren’t called on Draft day.