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The Sunday Pulpit: Who the heck is Texas QB Josh Covey? Here is the answer

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Texas football coach Tom Herman is always sharp, bright and articulate whenever he speaks. He is a man who says what he means, and means what he says. There is usually no ambiguity when Herman stands in front of you and delivers his thoughts. However, I must admit he threw me off earlier this month.

Prior to the start of fall camp, Herman held a press conference. During that hour-long media session, somebody asked Herman if he was comfortable with Matthew Merrick and Josh Covey as Texas’ third-string quarterback. As Herman was giving his answer, I had one thought.

Who the heck is Josh Covey?

“Covey being a guy that's actually somewhat impressive running around the cones, he's an athletic dude, which is kind of what you want from your third quarterback is,” Herman said prior to spring practice. “He's your third quarterback for a reason, so maybe he can add a dimension or get you out of a game running around a little bit back there, which hopefully he can provide.”

Herman previously said Jerrod Heard would be the emergency quarterback if Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger sustained injuries. Heard would know about eight plays to get them out of the game. If neither quarterback was available the following week, Heard would start. It was easy to shake off Herman’s quote about Covey and move on.

That was until Herman mentioned Covey a second time.

Merrick decided he was no longer going to play football at Texas and left the team this past week. It appeared Herman had two quarterbacks and no backups. I asked Herman about the quarterback situation on Tuesday. Once again, he talked about this mystery quarterback.

“I tell you what,” Herman said. “The (Josh) Covey kid actually might be a better option right now at third quarterback than Jerrod. He went out there and didn’t get a whole lot of reps in team, kind of routes on air segment. The kid can run a little bit, and he threw the ball pretty well.”

Who the heck is Josh Covey?

Herman is not a guy who praises people because that is what they want to hear. He is probably the last guy you want to ask for an opinion about your new outfit, unless you want an unfiltered answer. He is not afraid to call his defensive lineman fat. On the flip side, Herman praised P.J. Locke and thanked his parents for raising such a great young man. If Herman is praising Covey, there is something to it.

Covey is the youngest of three brothers. With three boys in the house, there was always a competition in something. Football was one of the sports they loved.

“Always competitive,” said Valerie Covey, his mother. “There was always a game going on.”

Covey attended East View High School in Georgetown, Texas. From the moment Covey hit a high school football field, he was successful.

“He was our first quarterback,” East View football coach Rob Davies said. “We’re a relatively new school. He didn’t play quarterback until our freshman year. He led that freshman team to an undefeated season and just exhibited great leadership and really took to the position. He had never played it before. Wanted to be a receiver. We kind of told him you’re going to be a quarterback. His sophomore year he broke his collarbone and really didn’t play much.”

When Covey returned for his junior season, he led East View to a 7-4 record and the playoffs. During Covey’s senior year, East View finished 9-3 and with a share of the 5A district title with Cedar Park, Vista Ridge and Vandergrift, which was arguably the state’s toughest district in 2014. East View defeated Bastrop, 31-0, in the first round, but was defeated by Kerrville-Tivy, 35-17, in the second round. Covey finished with 3,872 yards and 33 touchdowns[/URL] during three high school seasons.

By the way, Covey started on his school’s basketball team and was on the 4 x 100 relay team.

“He’s a great competitor, but he knows how to do it the right way,” Davies said. “That’s part of his leadership. The way he lives his life, and he works hard in everything that he does. His capacity to care about other people. I’m not trying to be sap, but I’m better for my time being around him just because he brings out the best in the people he comes in contact with. People say things like that all the time. He’s one of those kinds of people legitimately.”

To say Covey is kind of smart would be an understatement.

Covey was the school’s valedictorian, and he had several school options. However, his lifelong goal was to attend the University of Texas.

Mark Covey, his father, played defensive back at Texas. He was a letterman as a senior in 1977 and played on the same team with Earl Campbell. Valerie Covey is also a UT grad.

“Josh grew up a Longhorn fan,” Valerie Covey said. “We went to the football games. I guess he’s been a Longhorn fan all his life. In high school, he decided he wanted to major in electrical engineering. He looked at the different schools that offered that. UT was the best school for that major."

Covey was not recruited by former Texas coach Charlie Strong or anybody on the previous staff. He could have settled into college life and focused on academics. Instead, Covey decided tryout for the team as a receiver because he believed they were stacked at quarterback in 2015.

“He told us right as he was entering his freshman fall that he was going to walk-on to the football team,” Valerie Covey said. “We said, ‘Great, go for it.’ If that’s what you want to do, that’s wonderful.’ We encouraged him to do it if that was something he wanted to do. He did, and was able to get on the team.”

Prior to this offseason, Covey’s biggest contribution was boosting the team’s grade-point average. Covey is a two-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll (spring 2016, fall 2016). In theory, Covey could have been the typical walk-on who gets beat down in practice, never sees meaningful reps, but can say he was on the team.

That was until Herman was hired.

“Whenever the new staff came in, they were doing outside agility drills, and they were watching Josh catch the football as a receiver, and they had a need at quarterback,” Davies said. “Somewhere in there, someone said he played high school quarterback and walked on as a receiver. His athleticism and his work ethic and character, coach (Tim) Beck [offensive coordinator] got interested in him.

“I was at practice at one of the workouts, and he’s really smart. He’s a lot more athletic than I would have ever guessed. Kudos to them (Herman’s staff). Good job. That’s coaching. I like the fact they didn’t get hung up on this guy wasn’t recruited. This guy has made himself into a viable option.”

There is no telling how far Covey will climb the depth chart at Texas.

He is currently the third quarterback behind Buechele and Ehlinger, respectively. Herman is exploring the grad transfer market for another quarterback, and Texas will definitely add another passer in next year’s signing class. This might be as good as it gets. Then again, this might be the beginning of something special for Covey at Texas.

“I’ve told people whenever he was here, if he ran for president, he would get my vote,” Davies said. “I believe that much in him, even as a young man because he’s got tremendous character about him. He’s very intelligent. He loves people, cares about people. He’s what you want at quarterback at the University of Texas. The comment I made is this guy is going to walk-on and make your team better just because of his presence and the person he is. Not even getting into his ability, which I think he developed even past what he was here … When you go watch him practice, you can tell who’s a walk-on. You watch him and his interactions with the teammates and coaches, you would never know he’s a walk-on. Physically, he looks the part. The way he’s treated, the way he’s respected. He’s a Texas Longhorn football player. To accomplish that from a walk-on status, that alone says a lot about the person he is.”

Now I know who Josh Covey is.