GWALTNEY PLAYED out his final two seasons of collegiate eligibility at Kean, where he had his 2009 season cut short because of an ankle injury. He intended to head to the NFL after that year, but the injury derailed his plans once again.
"I had to rehab my ass off to get ready for the next season," Gwaltney said. "I showed that I was committed to my craft and I wasn't going to shy away from getting back on the field."
He finished 2010 - his senior season at Kean - with a school-record 1,412 yards, including four consecutive 200-yard rushing performances.
"He didn't big time anybody," said Dominic Cuniglio, Kean's running backs coach. "I didn't know him when he came to Kean, but I looked at it one of two ways: He would come in and say he's the man and everybody should bow to him, or he's going to be humble. Jason was very humble."
Gwaltney still wore No. 14, but his jersey wasn't hanging in Kean's bookstore. There was no one in the huddle squirting water in his mouth, no chartered flights, no one asking for his autograph.
"The situation really developed me," Gwaltney said. "I went from all the pampering to scrapping for everything I could get.
"There's nothing more humbling than going to a D-3 school. I've got linemen who are smaller than me and I have to encourage them every down. I felt it taught me how to be a leader."
"Everything that happened to me I had to learn from and I know it's going to make me into a complete player and person. I'm not just talking football, but a better father, husband and man.
"Football is a small part of life, but I have to use this outlet to make a better life for myself. Respect it and stay humble; have confidence, but know when to use it; learn from mistakes."
GWALTNEY IS adamant about his lack of regret.
If he would have landed at USC or Ohio State, he might have been relegated to an I-formation running back. At West Virginia, he learned the nuances of the spread, like how to run zone and pick up blitzes and block in shotgun formations.
It also forced him off his pedestal and thwarted his three-year plan to run into the NFL.
"Little things like that developed me," he said. "I might not be the first-round top 10 pick that I thought I could be, but I know a lot of top 10 picks who aren't in the league anymore.
"They go in there too easy and didn't go through the adversity I went through. I'm a lot better off now than being a 20-year-old going into the NFL signing a million-dollar contract. I would have been in trouble."
Gwaltney said he is asked often about the Mountaineers' run that coincided with his departure, but he harbors no ill feelings - especially when it comes to Steve Slaton, the running back who flourished in his absence.
"People on the outside might look at it like I was mad or upset," Gwaltney said. "I never hated on anybody that was getting it after I left the stage. At the end of the day, I did it to myself.
"I never held any animosity toward anybody. I just used it as the fire in my pot to get back on it; it motivated me. I never looked it as I should have been there doing this and that; that was my issue coming out of high school. I thought everything was going to be handed to me.
"I learned life's not like that."
That is why Gwaltney is here for the next eight weeks living with his half-brother, Scooter Berry. They chose Huntington to be isolated and free of distractions. Berry, who finished his WVU career this past season, calls the town "The Cave."
"They gave us a scholarship together because of me, but my man took it and ran with it and he hasn't stopped running since," Gwaltney said of Berry, a defensive lineman who made 41 career starts at WVU.
Gwaltney and Berry work out at the H.I.T. Center five days a week. They lift weights, condition, partake in arduous swim workouts, do Pilates and flexibility training, and even box and grapple.
This week, they begin practice for the Wonderlic, a test given by NFL teams to determine basic intelligence and problem-solving skills.
Gwaltney hopes to parlay his hard work into an NFL job. If not, the UFL and CFL have piqued his interest. He is using athletic training as a fallback option. If so, he might stay and work in the Mountain State.
"I'm back where I belong," he said. "I still have blue and gold running through my veins.
"And if I get on a Monday night game, it's going to be WVU and Kean. That's what I'm saying. That's what's coming out of my mouth."
Contact sportswriter Chuck McGill at chuck.mcg...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.