Covey making Big Impact, Looking Forward to USU Game

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Utah slot receiver Britain Covey is already making his mark as a Ute, and he’s only played one game. But in that one game, he was able to catch everyone’s attention and has a promising career ahead of him at Utah.

When Utah played Michigan in the season opener, Covey nearly made it into the endzone. At first, he and all his teammates thought the true freshman had his first collegiate touchdown, but officials ruled he was tackled just short of the goal line. This frustrated Covey to some extent, but he was happy the Utes were able to score on the ensuing possession.

Travis Wilson was sure Covey should have been awarded those six points but knows Covey will be an important player to the offense in the upcoming games.

“Definitely feel like refs screwed him out of his first college touchdown,” Wilson said. “He did a great job and made some big plays.”

This almost-touchdown was what really made Covey realize he was playing at the next level. He had no idea Jabrill Peppers, weighing in at 205 pounds and 6-foot-1, could catch up to him with such ease.

Freshman Britain Covey steps on the field before the game; The Utah Utes beat the Michigan Wolverines 24-17 at Rice Eccles Stadium on Thursday, September 3, 2015 Photo credit: Kiffer Creveling

Freshman Britain Covey steps on the field before the game; The Utah Utes beat the Michigan Wolverines 24-17 at Rice Eccles Stadium on Thursday, September 3, 2015 Photo credit: Kiffer Creveling

“I thought [I had it], but gosh, Jabrill,” Covey said. “The recovery speed in high school, I would have been in the end zone. The recovery speed in college is ridiculous.”

Even though this put a bit of damper on his game, he was still played a vital part to the offense. Part of what enables Covey to understand how and where the ball is going to be placed is because he played quarterback in high school at Timpview. He was even given the 2014 Utah 4A Mr. Football award last year at the position. He said this gave him more of an edge when coming into fall camp because he easily identified a lot of the schemes.

Wilson saw Covey’s transition from high school to college and immediately thought he was going to be a threat on the offense. Covey was able to blend with the team almost seamlessly, despite the position change.

“He’s going to have a big impact,” Wilson said. “Been a real playmaker for us this whole time, and I was so happy to see him make some great catches and to break out in that first game.”

Now, Covey is receiving passes rather than throwing them at the quarterback position, partly because of his height. The receiver is just 5-foot-8, and although he may not tower over other people, he makes up for it with speed. Head coach Kyle Whittingham thinks this is what separates him from the rest of the pack.

Covey also has a strong return game, and fans only got a small sample of what Whittingham thinks he will be able to do on specials team all season.

“He’s so quick and athletic and smart,” Whittingham said. “The only thing he is not is real big. But he does everything else. He’s got great hands.”

Against the Wolverines, Covey had one opportunity to run the ball back in the second quarter and he made the most of it. He did make other catches in the game, but his 14-yard return was another play that made fans take notice. What fans did not see was how nervous he was at the beginning of the game.

Covey was more anxious about returning the punt than anything else. Once he caught that first ball, however, all of his nerves disappeared.

“I had more butterflies on the punt return than I did at slot,” Covey said. “It really is true after that first snap, everything kind of leaves you and you’re just excited.”

Covey gained a lot from that first game, most notably the trust of his teammates, which he seemingly had before the game, too. In the locker room moments before the Utes took the field, Gianni Paul approached Covey because he saw how nervous he was and told him, “Look, we have trust in you, just don’t worry.”

Covey ended the game with five catches and 58 receiving yards, leading the receivers, but he does not want all the credit for this.

Covey attributes his success to his coaches, who were involved in the play-calling. Aside from this, he has a list of things he can work on, one being his red-zone efficiency. He will rely on his teammates and coaches to have his back for the rest of the season, and Whittingham is fully on-board.

“He’s a stud,” Whittingham said. “We believe in him.”

This week against Utah State, Covey is facing a few familiar faces in Dax Raymond and Zach Van Leeuwin, who he used to play alongside at Timpview. He thinks highly of his former teammates, and although he thinks it would be funny to give his defense ways to get under Raymond’s skin, he respects both of their games. He admires that they are freshmen, like him, and are already contributing.

Covey knows he will gain more and more experience with each game and it can only help him improve. Now that his first-game jitters are out of the way, his confidence is growing and he hopes to wow the crowd.

“It was really eye-opening,” Covey said. “I don’t think it quite hit me until I ran out of that tunnel and realized how many people were there, but it was a fun atmosphere. Looking forward, I’m just excited for this next game.”

Whittingham will be looking to Covey to have the same kind of impact he had against Michigan for the entire season. He plans on using Covey in multiple ways, and fans should expect to see him a lot more.

“He’s going to be a real weapon for us,” Whittingham said. “He’s a fierce competitor above all else.”

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