It was all things the junior receiver from West Virginia knew, however.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen took a shot or two at McCartney in his press conferences during fall camp.
Later on, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson added to that a bit by calling McCartney "an inconsistent guy right now – not just in football, but a lot of aspects of life."
"I didn't hear anything. It was all shocking to me when I heard about it later," McCartney said. "Nobody really needs someone else to push them. It should all be inside. You have to just find it in yourself.
"It was motivation, because no one wants to have their coaches have that perspective of them. I had to do something to get them out of that mindset."
At the end of August when the Mountaineers' released their depth chart leading into the season opener vs. Marshall, there was one player missing. Yep, it was McCartney.
He wasn't on the two-deep – and might have been so far in the doghouse that a three-deep roster wouldn't show him either. Players like redshirt freshman receiver K.J. Myers and redshirt senior receiver Ryan Nehlen passed McCartney on the depth chart at outside receiver.
The Z position starter – redshirt senior J.D. Woods – had done the opposite of what he did a year ago when McCartney passed Woods up for the spot. It was as if the two players switched positions.
"It's very tough. I went through a lot of adversity myself, so I understand when somebody is going through that. I can look into his eyes and I can tell. I take it upon myself to be there for them," Woods said. "I always tell Sticks that he's a beast. He's a phenomenon. I tell him to never get your head down and that you're a rare breed. Rare breed is different, so play like you're different. He's like ‘yea, yea, yea, I got you.'"
Injuries have really ravaged McCartney's career at WVU so far. He had to play the last half of the 2011 season with an injury and missed some of spring practice with one, as well. He even happened to be in a red jersey at times during fall practice.
If it wasn't injuries, it was classwork problems. He was close to not being able to qualify to play in the 2012 season, but he was able to get his grades in order just in time.
With that out of the way, it seems McCartney has his priorities in check. That's what he says, anyway.
Some rumors flew around the web during all of McCartney's tough times earlier this year. Did he want to stay at WVU? Was he happy here? Were the coaches happy with him?
"I don't know who put that all out there. It never crossed my mind," he said. "With the coaching staff and the bond that I've built with my team and coaches, how could I leave them? There's a reason why I'm here. God wouldn't have put me here, so I just have to stick to the plan. Things are going to get rough no matter what. There's always going to be bad times. God gives his strongest battles to the strongest soldiers, so I just have to fight through it.
"Before, everything was going around that I wasn't happy here and all of that. I've always been happy here, but it was something missing. To this day, I still don't know what it is. As time went on, I started to grow past that. Now, nothing even bothers me anymore. I'm just ecstatic."