football Edit

Britain Covey is the Embodiment of “A Utah Man”

The 2022 Rose Bowl will be Britain Covey’s curtain call with the University of Utah.

On Friday, Covey announced his plans to enter the 2022 NFL Draft. The upcoming Rose Bowl will be his final game in a Ute uniform, wrapping a college career that started back in 2015. Covey’s time with Utah included a pause to serve a two-year LDS Mission, a season eventually interrupted by a knee injury, and another season abbreviated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I could make all of the Life Alert and Social Security wisecracks thrown around social media, particularly by Britain himself, but this is a farewell that just feels different than others.

I’ve known Britain since he was a junior at Timpview High. He told me months ahead of his eventual commitment that it would take a lot for him to not become a Ute. At the time, the one-time BYU fan and BYU-legacy recruit shared with me a few reasons that influenced his decision: Utah’s offensive style, his high school success on the Rice-Eccles turf, and the Utes being in a P5 conference. There was an additional reason he revealed that stood out to me in particular, and it was a big one; as an LDS student-athlete, Britain believed he could enjoy the same religious experience at Utah that he would at BYU.

I remember having a conversation with a friend and local BYU reporter who became convinced that Covey would be a Cougar. He couldn’t fathom the thought of Covey wearing the drum and feather. Here we are though, seven years later. During that span, the Utes have compiled a 59-26 record, with three Pac-12 Championship Game appearances, and one Pac-12 title. Covey is now second all-time in receptions at Utah. He is the school’s all-time leader in career punt return yardage. Accolades recognizing what Covey has done on the field have followed. He’s a five-time All-Pac-12 selection between his roles as both a receiver and a returner. He’s also appeared on various All-American teams, starting as a freshman in 2015 and onto the 2021 season.

The one-time BYU-legacy recruit has become the embodiment of “A Utah Man.”

Ute fans, players, coaches, and opponents will remember Covey for his “video game” type moves on a football field. They’re jaw-dropping. They’ll remember him for his locker room antics. They’ll remember him for being a steadying force and as a leader through the trying times over this last year. As the grandson of the legendary Stephen Covey, Britain’s leadership and the way he approaches every day is a shining embodiment of his grandfather’s life’s work and his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

I still remain grateful to Britain to this day for what he did for my best friend’s son, Konner. Konner had already had a handful of skull surgeries and he was preparing to fly to Texas for his most important one. I set Konner up to go see the Utes at a football practice and I asked Britain in advance if he could just acknowledge Konner.

Britain did more than simply acknowledge him. He shadowed him the entire time he was with the team and he had Konner tackle him on a punt return. Most importantly, Britain still asks me to this day how Konner is doing. That’s another story in and of itself, but Konner’s surgery ultimately proved successful and now he’s excelling at his own sports pursuits.

Britain just cares. That’s why his heart gesture to the MUSS was so symbolic when he scored at Rice-Eccles Stadium for the last time against Colorado. He may only be 5-foot-8, but he possesses the heart of a giant. That’s why he’ll continue to excel in life. It’s also why taking a gamble on himself, even with one year of eligibility remaining, is the right thing to do.

Utah already sent one short and feisty receiver with “video game” type moves to the NFL. Steve Smith Sr. is now a future Hall of Famer. Whatever the future holds for Covey, he’ll be successful. It doesn’t matter if it involves playing football, coaching football, public speaking, or running a business. It’s just how he’s built.

Britain, the jokes have run rampant about how long you’ve played for the Utes. You’ve embraced them and cracked those same jokes at your own expense. All jokes aside, as a player, you define what it means to be “A Utah Man,” right up there with Kyle Whittingham, who fits the definition as a coach.

So to “A Utah Man,” I know the fans want to thank you for so many wonderful football memories. I know many across the Utah fanbase feel gratitude for the kindness you’ve shown and the impact you’ve made in the community over the years. You’ve truly made a difference. You’ve built, and are continuing to build, a remarkable legacy. Your legacy would make your grandfather proud. And it’s a legacy that countless people are eager to see fully unfold.