HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Consider Marshall linebacker Evan McKelvey a linebacker in safety's clothing.
At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, the redshirt sophomore looks like he'd line up a few yards farther away from the line of scrimmage. The way he covers ground and attacks ball-carriers shows he's right at home.
When the Thundering Herd takes the Joan C. Edwards Stadium field at noon Saturday against the University of Alabama at Birmingham (Comcast Sports South), McKelvey could get plenty of chances to show that size doesn't always matter.
"I'm actually stronger than I look," he said. "I'm able to play the position but it takes a toll on your body after the game, wearing you down in the fourth quarter. Some people don't think weight is a big difference, but it is a big difference when you're hitting big guys all the time."
McKelvey, younger brother of former Herd standout Omar Brown, has been happy to hit anyone this late in the season. He was done in the third game of 2012, out with a torn anterior cruciate ligament for the rest of the season after recording 14 tackles.
Being forced to the sidelines didn't sit well with McKelvey, but he said that, if anything, it made him realize how much he enjoyed the game and how he'd play when he did return to the field.
"It makes you want it more, makes you want to play more," he said. "It makes you know how it feels not to play, so you play every down like it's your last play."
He wasted little time in getting back into the mix with Marshall's defense. He's played in all eight games, starting against Gardner-Webb, the University of Texas at San Antonio and Florida Atlantic. He's third on the team with 44 tackles, with 22 solo, and is fourth on the team with five tackles for a loss. The apex of his return so far came against Middle Tennessee, when he recorded 12 tackles, 10 solo, against the Blue Raiders.