Most football players growing up in Ohio don’t dream of wearing the Maize and Blue, but for Jordan Kovacs, the Big House was home. Getting “home,” however, was a somewhat lengthy trip.
This Saturday, Oct. 1, at 10:30 a.m. ET on BTN’s Football Pregame show, viewers get an inside look at Kovacs’ unlikely route to Ann Arbor.
“It’s the ultimate success story, because he’s just one of the nicest, most humble and appreciative guys I’ve ever met,” BTN feature producer Dan Lindberg said.
Kovacs’ father, Lou, a Michigan walk-on who played in the early ‘80s, brought him to his first game at Michigan Stadium at age 6. It also happened to be Lloyd Carr’s first as head coach – Oct. 26, 1995. In a remarkable comeback, the No. 14 Wolverines scored 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to defeat No. 17 Virginia 18-17.
Ever since that day, playing football at Michigan was Kovacs’ dream. He even rejected a more promising offer to walk on at the University of Toledo in favor of Michigan, with the hope of making the team via open-campus tryouts.
That fall, Kovacs excelled in his audition, and was sent for a physical.
“At that point I’m telling all my friends that I made the team, and I was going to be playing for the Maize and Blue,” he said.
During the physical the trainer asked if he had any surgeries within the past year. Rather than dodge the question, Kovacs chose to honestly admit that he had undergone meniscus surgery during his senior year, and that his knee still occasionally bothered him.
Alarmed by the news that Kovacs still felt some discomfort, the trainer deemed him a liability. His dream was stalled.
With seven months until the next walk-on tryout, Kovacs elected to have his meniscus surgically repaired again.
As soon as his knee healed following the surgery, Kovacs was in the gym by 6 AM daily, running the track and strengthening his knee.
Focused and prepared, Kovacs again impressed the coaching staff during try-outs, and again, only a physical stood between him and a winged helmet.
This time, however, Kovacs was able to tell the trainers his knee felt great. The dream of playing for the Wolverines finally became reality.
Listed as second on the depth chart, Kovacs’ primary responsibility was special teams, but In Michigan’s second game of the 2009 season, against then-No. 18 Notre Dame, Kovacs got his chance when starting safety Mike Williams limped off with cramps.
Kovacs played the rest of that game, and the remainder of the season.
In 2010, he finished second in the Big Ten with 116 tackles, one shy of teammate Jonas Mouton. Saturday, he’ll have another chance to excel, when Michigan takes on Minnesota in the battle for the Little Brown Jug.
– Written by Derek Reinglass, BTN Communications