Two of the biggest reasons for the significant improvement of the IU defense last year was the stellar play of linebackers Tegray Scales and Marcus Oliver. Scales is back but Oliver left for the NFL and one of the top candidates to replace him in the starting line-up is senior Chris Covington. The Chicago native met with the media this week to talk about the start of spring football, and what it means to be playing next to one of the best linebackers in the nation.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Covington said it is exciting to be back out on the practice field playing football with his teammates.
“It feels good to be out there flying around,” he said about the start of spring ball. “We’ve got that confidence built up from last year moving from 100 and something rated defense to forty something. Now we’ve got that confidence to be in the top 25. It just feels good to be out there flying around with my teammates.”
Even though the Hoosiers made a big jump when it comes to their defensive rating, Covington and his teammates are looking to be even better this fall.
“We want to be at least top 25, and hopefully top 10, but you never know,” Covington said. “But our goal right now is top 25.”
Covington said the biggest reason for the turn-around that IU enjoyed on defense last fall was because of the attitude and mindset that Tom Allen instilled in the players when he took over as the defensive coordinator.
“The first day he came in slamming on the table and we love that,” he said about Coach Allen. “That’s what we wanted as a defensive unit. The change happened very fast once he brought all that enthusiasm into the defensive room.”
The talented Hoosier said another staff member that has been key in his development as a player is William Inge, his position coach at linebacker.
“Coach Inge means everything,” Covington said about the Indiana linebackers coach. “If it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t even be here right now to be honest. He holds you accountable for every little thing that you do. The little things matter the most to Coach Inge, and with him getting us right to do the little things right just means so much to me. I blamed him for a lot of things last year, but really he was just trying to get me right when it comes to the little things.”
Coach Inge said it means a great deal to him to hear one of his players talk about how much he has helped them as their coach.
“That’s been great because that is the very conversation we had,” Coach Inge said about Covington. “I wanted to challenge him personally, because I told him for him to really know the effectiveness he has to take this personal. To see him grow and learn and do things, to me that is very gratifying as a coach, to know that he can step back and look in the mirror and know there are some things he has to get fixed to make the football team better.”
If Covington is the starter at the middle linebacker spot he will be taking over for someone that he learned quite a bit from the last few years.
“It was very important for me, learning from Marcus (Oliver),” Covington said. “Marcus was one of the smartest guys on the team so I took what he told me and took advantage of it.”
The Indiana senior will also have the privilege of playing next to All-American Tegray Scales, and that is something that means a lot to him.
“It’s exciting,” he said about playing next to Scales. “With the name he has and I’m playing next to him so it just means a lot to me. I am blessed to be able to play next to him and to be able to communicate with him. It is just fun. He is an exciting guy and I love him to death. Hopefully we do our thing this year.”
Coach Inge said that Covington has started off well this spring, and it is pleasing to him as his coach to see him getting better and better.
"He has been doing very well in practice,” Coach Inge said about Covington’s play. “It’s great to see him moving around, flying around, learning the system. That helps when you have had time in the system, so knowing that he was here a year ago, he’s been performing and he’s been playing. It’s good to see him out there driving.”