-A Measure of Quality-
Back from his church mission, Britain Covey is ready to play ball.
In a sport dominated by behemoths, few would have imagined that the best football player on the field would be a 5-foot-8, 160-pound true freshman. In 2015, the University of Utah’s Britain Covey was just that. He electrified the fan base, all while tormenting and humiliating Pac-12 defenses on his way to becoming a freshman All-American receiver and returner. Unfortunately for the Utes, Covey would soon embark on a two-year LDS mission to Chile.
The wait is finally over. Now returned from his mission, Covey is working to reacclimatize to Salt Lake City and his football team. “I love soccer,” he says, “but after two years of it [in Chile], you just want to hit someone without getting a yellow card.”
Returning home 20 pounds lighter than when he left, Covey has taken it upon himself to get back into football shape. “Then there’s the emotional adjustment, the mental adjustment, the spiritual adjustment,” Covey noted. “It’s just a big change in your life.”
He lifts five days a week for an hour and a half, plays basketball for an hour, catches punts or passes for nearly another hour. To get back in the football mindset, Covey catches 150 passes off of a jug machine. If he doesn’t perform to his liking, Covey sets certain levels of punishment for himself.
“If I drop a couple passes, then I have to run a mile. If I drop two more, I have to run three miles,” said Covey. “Doing that, it just gives you a little bit of pressure to work with.”
Covey knows there’s a lot of expectation and he’s going to have to prove himself again. “I don’t want to come back and have people think that I feel entitled to anything, including my teammates,” he says. “I’m going to work as if I’m coming in as a walk-on.”
In preparation for summer workouts, Covey reached out to an unlikely ally, former BYU Cougar, Jordan Pendleton. “He’s able to pick things up so quick, because he moves so well,” said Pendleton. “For him, I tried to tell him when he got back to not rush into things so quickly. I’ve seen a lot of people come [home from a mission], and they want to get back to where they were before they left. You see a lot of injuries happen that way, because two years off is a long time.”
For the first month under Pendleton, Covey focused on light weights, balance, stabilization and secondary muscles. Next came increasing the weight. The final stage was getting him more in game mode, while focusing on his explosion. Also incorporated into his lifting during intervals, Covey would mix in shooting a couple basketball foul shots. If he’s under 90 percent, he had to run more. According to Covey, training in multiple sports replicates a stressful, highpressure environment.
“Our goal is to get him faster, stronger and more durable than he was before,” Pendleton says. It’s all about being patient, he says.
“I really appreciate Jordan,” said Covey. “I’ve learned more here in the two months training with him—about the body and the correct [lifting] form—than I had my whole life. He puts that big emphasis on the foundation.”
It hasn’t been easy because Covey wants to get there in a hurry. “Two weeks after I got home,” Covey said, “I wanted to run five miles, then go catch passes, then go play basketball every day.”
As Covey and Pendleton’s bond has formed, the mentor is eager to support his student. “I don’t really view Utah as a rival,” Pendleton says. “Deep down, I cheer for them when they’re playing other teams. I want the state of Utah to do good at football because it represents us well as a whole. I’m excited to go to some Utah games and cheer on No. 18.”
Similarly, while Covey will always respect BYU, the University of Utah is where his heart is. He’s eager to build his legacy—one that will be remembered by the fans. “I just love being a Ute, and I just love being a part of the program,” said Covey. He says Coach Whittingham is consistent; he knows exactly what he’s going to get from him. “That’s all you really need in a coach.”
Whatever happens this year, the thing that Covey wants most is a Pac-12 Championship. “I genuinely think we can do it,” he says It’s now time to sit back and watch Covey’s legend grow. “I’m pumped, I’m excited,” he says.