When you meet a superior person or athlete, their presence is extraordinarily impressionable. When you meet someone who fits both of those titles, you have met Jeff Covitz. He is a man with remarkable character, an infectious zest for life, and an incredibly talented football player. Set to graduate next month, Jeff Covitz made his mark during his time at Bryant University. The 6’1, 245 pound defensive end from Reading, Massachusetts put the finishing touches on a decorated career at Bryant this past fall.
Despite all of his success, Covitz has no intent on slowing down as he continues to work to achieve his lofty NFL aspirations.
“I have a constant belief that what I am doing is never good enough. I want to earn it every single day. Nothing is given.”
Jeff and I recently spent some time reflecting on his outstanding career at Bryant while looking ahead to the next chapter.
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has always maintained the notion that reliability is just as important as ability; Covitz exemplified the value in reliability. In a sport where many players spend more time in the training room than the field, Covitz never missed a game in his 46 game career. While on the field, the two-year captain accrued 191 tackles, 29.5 sacks, 66 tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles. The smart, fundamentally sound, high motor type of player that he was, Covitz feasted on opposing offensive tackles and tight ends. He was named First Team All-NEC three times and earned NEC Defensive Player of the Year his senior season.
Despite all of Covitz’s individual success, the impassioned leader’s proudest moment as a bulldog was “beating Maine on Homecoming my senior year.. That brought me to tears.” During his senior year, there were plenty of moments to be proud of en route to a school best 8-3 season. Victories over Maine and Stony Brook highlighted a strong year for the black and gold. Much of the success can be attributed to strong leadership from the captain Jeff Covitz: “I was honored to have been voted by my peers and that means so much. The responsibility was very important and something I took seriously.”
While Covitz and his teammates enjoyed a successful season in 2014, there was a fair share of tribulations early on in his career: “I hate losing. In 2012, we lost six games in a row to start the year. I did not know what to do with myself. I was at a loss for emotions and feelings.”
In addition to a disappointing sophomore campaign, Covitz lamented his Senior Day shortcomings: “Losing three Senior Days at home, including my own was unfathomable. How could I let a senior class lose their last home game and final game ever?”
Ultimately, Covitz enjoyed his time at Bryant University and understands what a special four years it was. “There are so many things I will miss. The long road trips where we bonded as a team; spending countless hours traveling together, eating great food, and getting ready to beat someone in their own house are things I will cherish forever.”
As the fall turned to winter, Covitz began to prepare for his lifelong dream of playing in the NFL: “Right after the season I signed with my agent and started training in the beginning of December. I also consulted people who have been through the process before and know what things to do to give myself the best chance possible. I have enjoyed this process so much because this is what I love to do and I have an extreme passion for it. I think about it nonstop every day.”
Covitz’s journey took an unexpected twist when he was told that a switch to fullback or linebacker would be most conducive to landing on an NFL roster. Unsurprisingly, Covitz has kept a positive attitude about the transition: “In addition to long snapping, I did both position drills at my pro days. I love running routes and catching the ball at fullback and moving in space at linebacker. My training and diet routine has helped with my weight and body composition and ability to move in space. I will play any position. I love football.”
Much of Covitz’s success was predicated on hard work. Over the past few months, his workouts have intensified: “I have been working on getting bigger, faster, stronger and quicker and working on the combine specific drills I would perform at my pro days. My training regimen is 6 days per week, 2-3 hours per day after classes. I also watch film and spend time with my coaches to prepare mentally.”
As for nutrition, don’t expect to see him signing any endorsement deals for fast food restaurants. “I have a strict diet that eliminated a lot of extra saturated fats and focused on having a lot of proteins, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains and fruits. I hit a lot my physical and body composition goals including losing about 5-8 pounds from my college playing weight and decreasing my overall body fat. Overall, I want to model my training and daily routine in a very precise and exact fashion so I can achieve the best results possible. I want to be a consummate professional in everything I do because this is what I love to do and very focused one.”
The pre-draft experience has been taxing, more so mentally than physically. The unknown is daunting; whether or not a team will sign you, where you will be living, for how long, and other unknowns are the nature of a business cleverly coined the “Not For Long” league. Covitz reiterated the difficult part of this journey: “The process, starting in December, is a very long, complex process that takes a lot of patience and focus. There is no room for error or to relax. It is more or less a waiting game that requires a lot of focus and maturity.”
Covitz was invited to Pro Days at Harvard and Brown back in March. There were roughly eight NFL scouts at each workout. In addition to the pro days, Covitz has met individually with teams. For all you stat heads, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds, did 22 reps on the bench press (225 pounds), and posted a 32-inch vertical leap. He also ran a 7.04 in the 3-cone drill, an 11.9 sixty yard shuttle, and a 4.43 5-10-5. Impressive numbers from the former defensive end.
Earning a spot on an NFL roster is one of the more impressive athletics achievements. Years of hard work, discipline, and development must come to fruition and even then nothing is guaranteed. The reality is, only elite football players earn a roster spot. While Covitz would love to hear his name called during next week’s draft, he will readily accept and embrace any opportunity to prove himself. He plans on watching the NFL draft with his family and girlfriend at home in Reading, Massachusetts. “I would not be the person I am today without the support of my family. Period. There is no place I would rather be than with them.”
A passionate New England sports fan, Covitz would obviously prefer to practice 25 miles northeast of Bryant. If not, it might surprise people to hear that his next choice would be a relocation to the Bay Area to play for the San Francisco 49ers: “I have always liked the 49ers. I have been always been a huge advocate of Jerry Rice and the legacy of their organization.”
I can say from experience, Jeff Covitz is the kind of person you want in your locker room. There are many different ways to be a leader, but in my own personal opinion, nothing is more powerful than leading by example. In his four years at Bryant University, Jeff Covitz did everything with his ultimate goal of winning football games in mind. Whether he was on the field, in practice, in the film room, or off the field, the goal was clear and the dedication was unwavering.
With the multitude of legal problems and one tumultuous offseason after another, never has character been so paramount to NFL talent evaluators. For a high character, hard-working kid, the future will be bright for Jeff Covitz.
Asked what motivates him to play in the NFL, he said: “The feeling of being mediocre or weak is something that I cannot live with. That feeling drives me to work harder, fight, and claw for perfection. I cannot live with that feeling. I want to earn it every single day.”
We will continue to document Jeff’s journey to the NFL. The NFL Draft starts on Thursday, April 30th and concludes on Saturday, May 2nd.