In His Blood

Before his mission Stephen Covey was spending his time on the practice learning how to be a defensive back. Now that he's back from his mission, Covey is competing for a spot at the position where he feels he belongs. He said he feels that playing quarterback is in his blood and is his passion.

"Oh yeah, playing quarterback is my passion," said Stephen Covey. "It's in my blood. My uncle played it here and it's always been my dream for as long as I can remember to be the quarterback at BYU. So now I'm just working hard to realize that dream."

Covey was first recruited to BYU as an athlete. While coaches told Covey he'd have his chance at quarterback, they first wanted him to try out the defensive back position. While Covey is all for helping out the team wherever he can, he didn't feel quite right earning his stripes in the defensive backfield.

"I worked hard and feel I competed hard," said Covey about his defensive back experience. "But in the back of my mind I really wanted to play quarterback."

True to his promise, head coach Bronco Mendenhall is allowing Covey to compete at the quarterback spot following his mission. Covey said his head is swimming right now as he's just four months removed from his mission service, but it's coming slowly but surely.

"It's a totally different mindset on offense than it is on defense," said Covey. "I worked hard to develop a defensive mindset before my mission, and now I'm just trying to get back to the mindset of playing quarterback. It's difficult, but it's coming."

National Excitement

Covey served in the St. Louis, Missouri mission. Though he was very mindful of his work as a missionary, Covey couldn't help but learn of what was going on with BYU's program while he was gone. When he went to church every Sunday, members would tell him how excited they were for BYU football.

"People really knew what was going on with the program, which was exciting to me," said Covey. "You got sort of the feeling that BYU was getting back to where it was in the 80s when everyone knew about BYU. Word is getting around, at least in St. Louis, that BYU is getting back to where it once was."

The foundation of that movement back to national recognition came during Covey's initial season in 2005, which was obviously Mendenhall's first season as a head coach. Looking back to 2005, Covey could readily see the foundation being put in place.

"Yeah, there was a lot of excitement and anticipation when I first got here," said Covey. "There was a great attempt by coaches at the time to instill the virtues of tradition and honor and do away with some of the stuff which plagued the program for the two years before I got there. There was a definite paradigm shift going on in the program."

Since Covey left for his mission, the team has yet to lose a conference game and has won both of its bowl games. Indeed, the paradigm has shifted at BYU, something that Covey has felt since he's returned.

"It's totally different now," said Covey. "Back then players had confidence that coaches were doing the right thing and we were ready to work, but now that you can see how the changes the coaches made [have helped], confidence is just sky high here. There's an attitude of excitement and confidence that I didn't think [was] here before I left on my mission."

Getting Back to Form

Now that he's back, Covey is intent on making his mark at the very position which made BYU recognizable in the past. Playing quarterback at BYU is a special thing, which Covey certainly recognizes.

"Being a quarterback at BYU holds a lot of pressure," said Covey. "Max [Hall] knows it, [as does] Brenden [Gaskins] and everyone else. We're looked at maybe more so than other positions, but I'm fine with that. Like I said, I'm passionate about playing quarterback at BYU and everything that comes with it."

Getting back to where Covey was in high school - leading his Timpview Thunderbirds to a state championship - along with learning all the nuances involved with being a collegiate quarterback isn't easy. With six days of practice, Covey is struggling to get where he needs to be, but is confident that it will come.

"I lost some quickness and weight on my mission and those are the things I'm working hardest at getting back," said Covey. "It's going okay. It's a challenge to learn a new offense. I haven't played quarterback for three years. Mentally [adjusting] is the biggest thing right now … knowing your drops, your reads and everything else is what I'm working on most, along with getting my speed back."

Fortunately for Covey, he has quarterbacks such as Max Hall, Brenden Gaskins and others to learn from. Covey has developed some itchy ears, as he's been listening very intently to every bit of advice his fellow quarterbacks and Coach Doman give to him.

"I'll be lining up sometimes unsure of the play and I know that I can go to whoever and they'll tell me," said Covey. "Everyone - obviously Max, but even guys like Jason Munns - are helping me whenever they can, which I appreciate."

Two weeks in, Covey is starting to see some change in his play and is confident that he'll soon learn all the factors of being a great BYU quarterback.

"The first week I really struggled," said Covey. "Just keeping my proper balance in my drops was a challenge, but this week I feel I've made a lot of progress and hopefully I'll feel that way after every week."

Different Threat

While Covey was at Timpview, he was known as much for his running capabilities as his throwing. Covey, along with Harvey Unga, ran rampant over the competition, using their collective abilities and athleticism. For this reason, Covey was looked at as an athlete/quarterback recruit who was capable of playing a number of positions.

Now that Covey is intent on playing quarterback, he feels that he can bring some new aspects to the position to aid the team.

"Yeah, I feel that I could really help change things up by running the ball some on some draws, options or other things," said Covey. "I haven't talked to coaches about it, and of course it's up to them, and what they feel is best, but I really think I could provide a change of pace at the position if that's the direction coaches want to go."

Around the country it's not uncommon for offensive coordinators to sub in so-called specialty quarterbacks in certain situations. Most of these specialty quarterbacks are used due to their running ability and overall quickness, which can wreak havoc on an opposing defense. Quickness and running ability is certainly a big part of Covey's arsenal.

"Whatever the coaches want and feel is best," said Covey about the option of utilizing his running abilities as a change of pace at the quarterback position. "It's something where I could possibly see myself really helping the team. But I don't want to be just a quarterback who runs the ball occasionally when he subs in. I want to be an every-down quarterback, and that's what the coaches want. That's what I'm working toward."


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