Covington goes to Rice

Surrey resident accepts football scholarship

Christian Covington was all smiles after signing a letter of intent to play football at Rice University in Houston

Christian Covington was all smiles after signing a letter of intent to play football at Rice University in Houston

He has the size, athleticism, bloodline, statistics and a love for the game that would suggest a promising football career is ahead of him.

But when American universities came calling, offering a full-ride scholarship to the 18-year-old Surrey resident, only one thing mattered to Christian Covington – academics.

A first team All-Canadian as well as an Academic All-Canadian in his senior year at Vancouver College, the six-foot-three, 275-pound defensive lineman signed a letter of intent to attend Rice University yesterday afternoon, opting for the Houston school over similar offers from three major Pac 12 teams.

“It’s a very academic school, ranked 17th in the nation. That appealed to me,” explained Covington after signing the letter.

“I want to pursue medicine as a career. Rice is in Houston, the fourth largest city in the nation, and it’s located right next to the world’s largest medical centre. That was huge, and made my decision a little easier.”

The son of Grover Covington, a Hamilton Tiger-Cats legend who is in the Canadian Football League (CFL) Hall of Fame and is the league’s all-time quarterback sack leader, Christian led the Vancouver College Fighting Irish to a Subway Bowl provincial championship last season.

The team captain was credited with 83 tackles, 15 sacks, six fumble recoveries an interception and two defensive touchdowns in 14 games.

It will likely take a few years before he starts putting up those numbers for the Rice Owls of Conference USA, but Covington is willing to wait for the opportunity.

“We’re not too sure about the playing situation,” he admitted. “Because of my age, I’m one of the youngest going there, I might be red-shirting (practice, not play) my first year. But I’ll leave it up to them. I’ll just play whatever role they tell me to.”

But Owls head coach David Bailiff doesn’t expect it will be long before his new recruit makes an impact at the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) level.

“His upside is going to be amazing,” Bailiff said. “He just turned 18 in October. He runs well and is very powerful. He’s been well-coached by his father and uses great technique.”

Grover Covington has had a huge influence on his son’s playing career, offering advice, some coaching and support along the way. But only after Christian was successful in letting hi s father allow him to play.

“Football is the kind of sport you have to love. He was around it, but it was going to be his decision if he played,” said the father.

“I never pushed him that way, but he bugged me to play in Grade 8. He kept saying ‘please Dad. Please Dad.’ So I told him ‘once you make that commitment, you gotta go full force.’ And he did. He’s always been that kind of young man.”