Written By T.J. Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
We’ve almost made it. In just four days, the Indiana Hoosiers will finally get to hit someone wearing a different school’s uniform as they kick-off the 2015 season against the Southern Illinois Salukis. Today, we have a double-shot of the countdown as we examine a player that has switched from offense to defense and a player looking to make an impact at a position of need. First up is sophomore linebacker Chris Covington.
- Height: 6’2”
- Weight: 228 pounds
- Hometown: Chicago, Illinois/Al Raby High School
- Year/Position: Sophomore/Linebacker
Not much was expected during Chris Covington’s freshman season. However, he impressed the coaches during the preseason and earned himself the backup quarterback role. He debuted in mop-up duty against Indiana State and then ran three times for 44 yards against North Texas. Surely he wouldn’t be used in an important situation though, right? Wrong. In Week 6, Nate Sudfeld was slammed to the turf and was forced to leave the game. Enter the athletic true freshman, Chris Covington. He ran for 41 yards and threw for 31 yards as the Hoosiers fell to the Hawkeyes. As we know, Nate Sudfeld would miss the rest of the season. Unfortunately, Chris Covington was also injured during the contest as he suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
With the return of Nate Sudfeld, the presence of Zander Diamont and Danny Cameron and the addition of true freshmen Austin King and Donavan Hale, IU appears to be well-stocked at quarterback. Covington approached IU head coach Kevin Wilson about a move back to his original position of linebacker. Wilson agreed, saying, “it’s what he wanted and what’s best for him is best for the team.”
Covington came to IU after a successful career at Al Raby High School in Chicago, Illinois. He threw for 1,993 yards and 26 touchdowns and added 657 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also played defensive back and snagged three interceptions. His success on the field earned him all-city and all-conference honors and allowed him to become the first athlete from Al Raby High School to earn a Division 1 scholarship.
Covington probably won’t see much game action at linebacker in 2015 but he is undoubtedly a very good athlete and his size is ideal for the position. It’s possible he becomes a force on special teams this season and competes for significant playing time within the next couple years. It’s also possible that he redshirts this season to gain more experience at linebacker. Either way, his selflessness and flexibility to switch positions and do what is best for the team is refreshing and having a player willing to do whatever it takes to help the squad is a major positive.
- Height: 5’10”
- Weight: 188 pounds
- Hometown: Sarasota, Florida/Booker High School
- Year/Position: RS Junior/WR
Wide receiver is a position that is being watched incredibly closely in 2015. The scrutiny springs mainly from the struggles the group had in 2014. Multiple receivers had issues with drops and the timing never felt right with Nate Sudfeld or the quarterbacks that followed. One of the players hoping to step up and make sure those errors don’t repeat themselves in 2015 is Ricky Jones, a redshirt junior from Florida.
The Sunshine State native played wide receiver and cornerback for Booker High School and earned Class 4A All-State first team honors as a senior. Jones was a four-year letter winner in both football and basketball and a three-year letter winner in track and field. As a sophomore, he caught 61 passes for 994 yards. His junior year was even better as he caught 52 passes for 932 yards (a ridiculous 17.9 yards per catch) and 11 touchdowns. Jones garnered 58 receptions for 897 yards with 11 touchdowns as a senior and chose IU over scholarship offers from Western Kentucky and Duke.
His IU career has been frustrating thus far as a recurring ankle issue has held him back. Jones broke his ankle in 2012 and the same injury limited him in both 2013 and 2014 as he struggled to return to 100% health. The redshirt junior played in all 12 games in 2014 and made three receptions for 58 yards. He’s ready to show that he’s past the injury, back to 100% and eager to be an impact player.
“This past year, I’ve gotten way better outside. Last year was the first time I played outside, but I’ve grown a lot. I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself right now to play outside,” Jones told reporters. “I’m the old Ricky again but, really, I’m a new Ricky now. I’m smarter, better, bigger. It’s going to be fun.”
There was speculation that Jones could be used at the slot when it was announced that J-Shun Harris would miss the 2015 season with an injury. However, Ricky Jones seems confident he’ll be playing outside while the slot position will be a battle between Mitchell Paige, Damon Graham and newcomers Isaac James and Mike Majette.
Whether it’s outside or in the slot, IU offensive coordinator Kevin Johns feels Jones is ready to break out. “For him, it’s been a long time coming. I think he has a huge ceiling,” Johns told the Elkhart Truth. “More than anything else, he’s one of those guys, coming into his last two years of football, he has a chance to now go show what he knew he could do three years ago. Injuries have held him back. I think he has a huge ceiling. I think that Nate (Sudfeld) feels good with him, that all the quarterbacks feel good with him.”
The season is almost here! Keep coming back to Hoosier Huddle as we complete our countdown and provide you with the most comprehensive IU football coverage around.