Ivy: Not Yet Ready

Mortty Ivy has recovered from his spring practice ACL tear remarkably fast. But it still might not be quick enough for the season opener.

Ivy, a sophomore linebacker with solid talent and the ability to contribute in many defensive sets and packages, tore his ACL early in spring drills, missing the majority of those practices and some of the summer conditioning after undergoing surgery. And while the knee has responded remarkably well – ACL tears used to mean being sidelined, literally and figuratively, for one year or longer, compared to Ivy's six months – the Pittsburgh native might not play until the second or third week of the season.

"I hope to be back the week before the Marshall game," he said. "But if not then, we will wait another week or two to make sure the knee is 100 percent. Sometimes it gets a little sore during practice, but I try not to think about it and just go play ball."

That is later than the coaching staff originally thought. Ivy, who was expected back as early as the start of West Virginia's fall practices, has yet to be involved in full contact drills or scrimmages. He is getting treatment before and after practices and using break periods for icing and stretching sessions. Ivy's recovery regiment included leg presses, squats, isometrics, some calf raises and hamstring work. He also dabbled in aquatic recovery after getting his stitches removed, using the buoyancy of a pool to take stress off the injury while strengthening the ligaments via walking and lighter ankle weights in the water, which itself provided additional resistance.

"He is doing a little more each day," head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "But he is still not doing everything. He is in a green jersey."

Doctors said that when the Mountaineers returned for fall practice that Ivy would be able to go outside and run. But as soon as summer conditioning began, he was outside and walk, even jogging a bit, gaining additional movement everyday. Now, the recovery seems to have slowed, but it might be because the current stresses put on the knee – running, cutting and being able to stand up to hits and sideways blows that come with playing linebacker – are significantly harsher than anything Ivy did over the summer.

"Now I can run and everything, but I want to wait long enough so I can turn and cut and play like I need to," Ivy said. "I was coming in every day and lifting at least twice a day, getting the strength back. It is still healing a bit, and you don't want to be out there and not be able to give 100 percent. I am rehabbing, trying to get better and I am trying to get my footwork back. Sitting there for four months and not doing much is hard. I'm trying to get ready to step in when the season comes."

Ivy played in all 12 games last season as a redshirt freshman. The Gateway High (Monroeville, Pa.) grad recorded 44 tackles, with two for a loss and one pass deflection. He manned the will (weakside) linebacker spot behind Kevin McLee, and is slated to play the same position this year. WVU has a plethora of linebackers who are versatile enough to play two or three positions. McLee is set at the will, where he is freed up to again make more plays than when he began his career at the sam (strongside), with upperclass returning starter Jay Henry in the middle and Bobby Hathaway, Barry Wright and Reed Williams battling for the strongside position. Middle reserve Marc Magro can play multiple positions, as could Henry if need be, so there is no need to shuffle additional players into an already overloaded lineup.

Ivy's main test will come when he is cleared for full contact and takes or delivers the first shot. There is always a tense feeling beforehand, but once the knee holds under the first hit, the doubts are typically forgotten. Ivy is trying that approach already.

"The most important thing it to get it out of your head about tearing the ACL again or hurting yourself," he said. "It happened and it's done with. I recovered and it is time to play ball."

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