Covey Making the Switch: The H-Position

Last year Stephen Covey practiced in an effort to hone his skills as a BYU Cougar quarterback. However, the athletically gifted Covey feels his talents could be better suited at a position BYU fans would love to see return to the football field.

Turning back the wheels of time, Covey was basically untouchable in the open field while on the run as a Timpview High School quarterback. As a senior quarterback, Covey rushed 120 times for 958 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a junior he ran for 1,163 yards and 11 touchdowns on 168 carries, so running the football is something Covey is well acquainted with. Now it's time for those skills to be put to use.

"Back in 2005 and 2006 Nate Meikle was a huge part of that offense," Covey said. "The H receiver position played a big role in the offense. Over the last couple of years, the position hasn't played a big role in the offense. Part of that is personnel, because we have two great tight ends in Dennis Pitta and Andrew George, so you have to take advantage of the types of athletes you have."

So how has the transition from quarterback to receiver been for Covey?

"There's a lot to making the switch from quarterback to receiver," Covey said. "It first starts with your hands and your ability to catch the ball, so in January when I made the switch I went out and practiced with the ball machine that throws the balls to you. I did that a lot every day, so catching is the first part, and then route running is the second important aspect about playing the position. There is a lot more than just running straight at a guy and then making a move. There are little things such as ‘stems.'"

The "stem" technique is used to help manipulate the cornerback, allowing the receiver to set himself up better for his route.

"A stem is when you run out and position yourself either on the right or left shoulder of the cornerback before you make your move," said Covey. "You essentially make two more moves before you even get there. I'm still learning all this stuff and grasp it, but I think the two biggest transitions from quarterback to receiver are catching and route running."

According to Covey, offensive coordinator Robert Anae wants the H receiver (commonly called slot or inside receiver) position to return so as to provide more diversity to the offensive attack.

"I know that Coach Anae likes the H receiver position because it gives the offense a different look than a tight end can give, especially in games where you can have a fast guy on a linebacker," said Covey. "It helps create a big advantage. I definitely know that the coaches want to see the H position come back, and me and Matt Marshall look at it and want it to return to the position when Nate Meikle was here."

However, before the position becomes a big part of the offensive package, a few obstacles much first be overcome.

"Right now we're doing everything that we can to earn the trust of the coaches so we can insert the H receiver more," Covey said. "I think for me, I'm trying to establish that trust. I don't think the coaches question that I'm not athletic enough. I don't think they question that I have the type of abilities to play the position effectively."

On top of earning trust, the players must show that they can take the punishment that comes from opposing defenses.

"I think they know that the position requires a lot of physicality out of it, and I think what the coaches are looking [to see] if we can take the physical side that comes with the playing the position," said Covey. "You have to have a lot of heart, and that's something that Nate Meikle had, was a lot of heart. He may not have been one of the fastest guys but he was someone that was trusted and had a lot of heart."

While the position is being developed and honed by both players and coaches, Covey feels he has a few aces in his back pocket that will allow him to make the position a successful one within the Cougar offense.

"Playing quarterback has definitely helped me because I know all the positions on the field and how they work together," said Covey. "With that being the case, I now only have to focus on knowing one position and one route and how it works on the field.

"Another thing is I have a really good relationship with the quarterbacks, having practiced with them last year. Because of our relationship I can talk to them and also empathize with the quarterbacks. Another thing that has helped me is being on the same page with the quarterbacks when reading the defense. I can look at a defense and know exactly what the quarterbacks are thinking because reading the defense is a big part of playing the quarterback position. I think we'll have good chemistry and be that much more effective because of these things."

Along with developing his skills as a receiver, Covey is also going to put his speed and quickness to good use by taking on some of the challenges of special teams.

"I'm trying to do punts as well as kickoffs," said Covey. "I'm going to try and do that this year as well. I'm pretty excited about it and feel I can contribute to the team there as well. What the coaches are looking for is a player that will catch the ball in every situation, make the first guy miss and get upfield. I feel this is something I can do. We also have Luke [Ashworth], O'Neill [Chambers] and McKay Jacobson and these guys are all great. I think will all of us combined we're going to tear it up back there fielding punts and kick returns."

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