Jordan Kovacs Tells His Story

The walkon starting safety is surprised to be starting ... but thought he had what it took to contribute at Michigan.

Question: Jordan when you tried was this sort of what you envisioned or is this beyond even anything that you imagined?

Jordan Kovacs: "That's funny. When I first tried out, I kind of had the goal over the course of four years, hopefully making a special team or something. My dad walked on and he played three minutes in the Purdue game, was kind of scrub time. I kind of expected that that what was all walk-ons do. I guess this is definitely more than I ever expected."

Question: So growing up was that like a war story, where he told it all the time; every time he'd watch a game, ‘when I was in there'?

Jordan Kovacs: "He really didn't talk about it much. He did like to tell some stories just to me. He's a pretty modest guy, a pretty humble guy, but he did tell a lot of stories to me."

Question: What do you think have elevated you to the starting lineup? Is there one particular trait about you?

Jordan Kovacs: "Not really. I think all walk-ons kind of have that dedication that hard work, maybe that is what has set me apart from a lot of people that I had to preserve a few times and I guess I kind of stepped into a fortunate situation at safety; we're pretty thin. I guess I've made the most of my opportunities so far."

Question: When did you get a sense that you had the chance to play more than even special teams?

Jordan Kovacs: "I think it was after fall camp when I started realizing that I was moved to second string free safety, started realizing that I was only one play away from being out there and sure enough in the Notre Dame game, Mike (Williams) cramped up and found myself out on the field."

Question: Were you nervous that first time?

Jordan Kovacs: "Not really. If you had told me the night before that I was going to play, I definitely would have been nervous but at that point I was pretty much in the zone and I was ready to go. I think coach Robinson was a little more nervous about putting me in than I was."

Question: Now you've switched safety positions, can you talk about that transition?

Jordan Kovacs: "Yeah. I was free safety. We played more up at the line, more of a run stopping safety and they moved me to strong safety so that I can get a little more playing time. At that position, I'm more in open space, more of a coverage safety. I'm kind of getting a little comfortable with that. Each game, I'm getting a little bit more comfortable. I'm starting to like it."

Question: Assess your game in high school, I mean were you good enough that you could have played at some division one schools or did you make big leaps between than and now?

Jordan Kovacs: "I like to think that I could have played at division one school. I feel that my game is about the same as it was in high school. Maybe I've gotten a little bigger, maybe a little faster, but I'm still the same player."

Question: Were you being recruited by anyone?

Jordan Kovacs: "Not really. I was recruited by a couple of D-II schools. I was a preferred walk-on at the University of Toledo, but I guess that kind of just made me a little bit hungrier to play for the University of Michigan."

Question: Did this kind of upset your whole life, because you're enrolled in classes a normal student and everything, you didn't know if you would even make the team; are you trying to squeeze everything in this semester?

Jordan Kovacs: "No right now I'm taking the same course load as everybody else, 12 credits and I'm just going from there, maybe I'll stay here for the semester my fifth year senior year."

Question: Obviously the head coach was a walk-on, do you get a little more of a field that he is really trying to build that part of the program?

Jordan Kovacs: "Yeah, you know when he first took over the program, what I heard was that he really liked to get the walk-ons involved and he really gave them a shot at playing and more programs don't do that. Most programs, walk-ons are glorified tackling dummies sort of to say or they get the team ready through scout team during the weekday. I did realize that as soon as I came here, he definitely gives every player a legitimate shot. He says that he plays the best players. He likes winning too much to not play the best players. I definitely feel like he gives everybody a fair shot."

Question: Now that you have a couple of games under your belt; how is your assessment of the new secondary lined up with Troy (Woolfolk) at cornerback?

Jordan Kovacs: "Like I said, I'm getting a little more comfortable there. There is always room for improvement. I definitely got to work on my footwork and I feel like we're all getting a little more comfortable still trying to gel, but we're getting there."

Question: You hurt your knee and you came back? Was there ever a thought that maybe it wasn't meant to be and maybe it's not worth going through it?

Jordan Kovacs: "Yeah. I guess…I never really thought that it wasn't going to happen. After I was sent home after the first tryout, I made it and I revealed a little too much information, I was definitely bummed. I remember going home and talking to my dad, man I don't know, I don't know what to do, but my dad told me that everything happens for a reason, just follow your heart and if it is what you really want to do, keep working hard. I did, I worked hard in the offseason and finally made it."

Question: You revealed too much information, what was that?

Jordan Kovacs: "Yes that I had knee surgery. My senior year in high school I had knee surgery, and I said it still felt the same as before. They couldn't let me play because they felt that I would be a liability out there on the team."

Question: How did it get better?

Jordan Kovacs: "I had another surgery and they found a torn meniscus and it has been feeling great sense."

Question: Has the respect level increased from your teammates, your friends back home?

Jordan Kovacs: "Yeah. I think teammates have actually learned my name. I noticed that after I played the first game, but I might be getting a few more calls every now and then before, but I guess for the most part it has increased."

Question: So what did you call before, Jason?

Jordan Kovacs: "Everything. I heard that coach Robinson said that he didn't even know my name before fall camp this year. I guess he knows it now."

Question: I heard this fall about the defense and gelling; give us a little more information; what do you mean by that and how will you know when you will gel?

Jordan Kovacs: "Every game, I feel like there is just a couple of plays that are hurting us. We're giving up a couple of big plays now and then, but I do feel like we are getting a little more comfortable each week and everybody is starting to understand there assignments a little more."

Question: Is it communication?

Jordan Kovacs: "Yeah, we could do a better job of communicating. I think that is part of it. We're getting there. We're getting there."

Question: What about your 17 tackle game or whatever that one was; reflect back on that, what do you think?

Jordan Kovacs: "I didn't really realize that I had made that many tackles but stats are stats. I'm not too concerned about it. Obviously it was one too few."

Question: Coming out of high school, was your number one priority, okay Michigan is a really good school, I can try to play football or I can really do this, the school, a program as prestigious as Michigan?

Jordan Kovacs: "I'd always believed that I was going to play football at the University of Michigan and I did a division one scholarship, if I had gotten one from wherever, I probably would have taken it, but if I didn't get one, I definitely wanted to go to the University of Michigan. I'd always thought what if Toledo did offer, would I be there. I'm kind of happy that they didn't. I'm happy that I ended up here."

Question: Are you still paying your own way?

Jordan Kovacs: "Yes."

Question: Doing what you do, do you find yourself looking around and thinking, there's a walk-on that couldn't play or seeing other guys that have that talent?

Jordan Kovacs: "Oh yeah. There are a lot of walk-ons on this team that definitely can contribute and do contribute."

Question: Who are some of them?

Jordan Kovacs: "Jon Conover, Matt Cavanaugh, Kevin Leach, a lot of them, a lot of them."

Question: You're starting and you're still paying your own way, does that bother you at all?

Jordan Kovacs: "No, not at all. I'm not concerned about that. I'm glad that I'm out there playing. That's all that all I could ever ask for."

Question: Would you have had that surgery if you were just a normal student just walking around?

Jordan Kovacs: "No."

Question: You said that you would have been nervous had you known before that Notre Dame game that you were going to play; so when you did find out that you were starting, what was the night like before?

Jordan Kovacs: "The night before the Indiana game, I was a little more relaxed than if I had known I was starting the Notre Dame game. I got a little more comfortable after playing against Notre Dame and gained a little bit of confidence and I think the coaches and everyone was a little more comfortable with me. I wasn't too nervous before the Indiana game."

Question: What is the best thing that happens away from the football field that you get being a Michigan football player – that you can talk about (laughter)?

Jordan Kovacs: "(Laughing) I don't know. I'm not sure."

Question: You getting noticed?

Jordan Kovacs: "I'm noticed by a lot of people but that is something new, but for the most part I haven't changed, I'm still the same person, I don't let it change me."

Question: Did you play against Kevin Koger in high school?

Jordan Kovacs: "Yeah, we were actually rival schools."

Question: How did that game go?

Jordan Kovacs: "Our freshman and sophomore we beat them and junior year, they beat us pretty good. I remember, he was playing defensive end and he picked off a screen pass and took it to the house and everybody was kind of amazed when he did that. We didn't end up playing him our senior year. I tell him he's lucky."

Question: Did you see the movie ‘Rudy'?

Jordan Kovacs: "Yeah."

Question: When you called home and told your dad that you were in the two deep, did they all believe you?

Jordan Kovacs: "Actually that's funny. I didn't really tell anybody I was two deep because I didn't know if it was actually going to end up working out if Mike (Williams) ended up getting hurt, if I was actually going to be out on the field. I kind of didn't believe in myself. I kind of kept that on the down low. It is funny that you bring up ‘Rudy', because I did watch that before both tryouts."

Question: Was it sort of inspiration?

Jordan Kovacs: "Yep."

Question: When you were out for the Notre Dame game, was that like a big shock for your family too?

Jordan Kovacs: "It was. Every game was kind of like just wow, I can't believe I'm out here."

Question: Is the mental approach, obviously you didn't have the same upbringing as Rudy, but the same mental approach, the sort of you can do anything?

Jordan Kovacs: "Yeah. I think every walk on has that mentality that nothing can stop them that they are going to go out there and play hard, do whatever it takes to make the team better and if they happen to be out on the field, then so be it."

Question: Back to ‘Rudy' for a second; did you go rent the movie, Netflix it; had it somewhere?

Jordan Kovacs: "No. I had it. I've watched it several times before and I watched it before I tried out."

Question: Talk about that first tryout, it sounds like it went okay and then what, after that you told them that you knee surgery?

Jordan Kovacs: "Yeah I had made it. A few other guys made it and we had to be further evaluated through the trainers and that is when I said I had knee surgery and I kind of realized that I was digging myself a hole and (they) told me that I couldn't be on the team."

Question: Did they advise to get it fixed and come back this year?

Jordan Kovacs: "Yeah. I kind of asked what I had to do to be on the team, what do I have to go through and they said I was going to have to get it looked at, get it taken care of and come back and let them know that it is better."

Question: You showed up with everybody else at fall camp this year?

Jordan Kovacs: "I had to try back out in the spring of last year and then I was at practice for spring ball and then came back for fall."

Question: You've emerged as one of the better tacklers on the team it seems; how much is desire and how much is technique?

Jordan Kovacs: "I think every good tackler has to have that mentality that they are just going to go in there and make the tackle. You got to kind of play fearless. I guess some of it is technique too. I miss my fair share of tackles, so that's something that I do have to work on."

Question: Did you just get misevaluated when you were in high school or are you that much better?

Jordan Kovacs: "I'm not really sure. I don't know how to answer that question. Things have worked out."

Question: What have you been timed in the 40?

Jordan Kovacs: "I think I was a 4.6 at the first tryout. It was mid to high 4.6."

Question: Is that when you kind of opened their eyes a little bit?

Jordan Kovacs: "I think so. I think I ran the fastest 40 there. I was kind of surprised by that because I'm not too fast of a guy. That might have opened their eyes a little bit."

Question: Did you ever have it in your head that I'm better than this?

Jordan Kovacs: "That's kind of the chip on every walk on shoulder out there. That is kind of how I prepare for every game. I just think the opponent didn't think I was good enough to be on their team, so I'm going to go out there and prove them wrong."

Question: Did you grow up a Michigan fan?

Jordan Kovacs: "Yeah my dad walked on."

Question: So you were always brought up a fan?

Jordan Kovacs: "Yeah. I've been to countless games. I've seen them all and I've always kind of dreamt of playing in The Big House."

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