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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “‘Out here, it’s concussion time'”

    Xavier Smith (30) doesnt know it yet, but hes about to get popped by Adrian McCovy (25), the biggest hitter on the team. McCovy would cause and recover the fumble, before doing what he likes to do best ? celebrate.
    Xavier Smith (30) doesn’t know it yet, but he’s about to get popped by Adrian McCovy (25), the biggest hitter on the team. McCovy would cause and recover the fumble, before doing what he likes to do best ? celebrate.

    Midway through last weekend’s final fall scrimmage, Xavier Smith hit the gap and saw some open field. At least until Adrian McCovy closed it in menacing style.

    The two bodies collided, with McCovy coming out on top, sending Smith’s helmet hurdling into the air – and rendering the 5-foot-11, 196-pound running back at a loss for words.

    Xavier Smith, meet Adrian McCovy. All 6 feet 2 inches and 223 pounds of him.

    That day, something Smith already knew was reiterated in a big way: If you’re carrying a football, McCovy will hit you. Hard.

    “”Out here,”” Smith said, “”it’s usually like concussion time, so you just gotta be prepared when he comes.””

    Though Smith contends the hit looked worse than it appeared – “”He just got under my helmet, but it just looked like he hit me really hard,”” he said – McCovy’s side of the story was different.

    “”Who, ‘X?'”” McCovy said of his teammate when asked about the hit. “”He was speechless. He didn’t even know it could come like that.””

    The linebacker’s been doing it since he was seven. In Pop Warner, he paralyzed an opponent. Years later, his mom received a phone call from another player’s mother after McCovy broke her son’s jaw in a high school game.

    You see, McCovy – who has added 20 pounds to his frame since reporting as a freshman last season – doesn’t like to hold back. He simply comes at you with everything he’s got.

    “”He got me going across the middle, and I caught the ball, and tried to get up-field, and he laid it on me,”” wideout Anthony Johnson said of a hit he absorbed from McCovy in a full-contact scrimmage. “”He’s definitely one of the biggest hitters I’ve come across in my football career.””

    If nothing else, Johnson said, McCovy is “”the No. 1 (hitter) on the team, most definitely.””

    “”I’d compare him to (NFL linebackers) Ray Lewis, (Brian) Urlacher, and a little bit of (NFL defensive lineman Warren) Sapp,”” Johnson added, “”because he likes to celebrate, too.””

    As with most anything else in life, McCovy excels at driving himself through opposing players if for no other reason than because he simply enjoys doing it.

    “”He loves to do it,”” Johnson said. “”He loves to hit.””

    “”To tell you the truth, he doesn’t really have a form, he just likes to do it.””

    Not that the opposing players lining up against him enjoy it.

    “”(Opponents’) linemen are going to be like, ‘(Expletive), this guy’s going to kill me!'”” Smith said. “”So, they just gotta watch out.””

    But for McCovy, the source of his hits goes beyond personal entertainment.

    “”It’s a natural instinct, man,”” McCovy said. “”It’s like everybody’s an obstacle.””

    After playing most of last season on special teams and limited time at linebacker, when McCovy posted seven tackles and two sacks – “”We kind of wasted a year with him last year, he should be a redshirt freshman,”” McCovy’s head coach, Mike Stoops, said of his hard hitter – the native of Lakewood, Calif., figures to play a bigger role in the defense this season.

    “”He brings energy and enthusiasm every time he steps on the field, and he’s getting better every day,”” Stoops said. “”He’ll be a factor this season. Some way or some how, he’s going to have to play and play well for us. He’ll help our defense.””

    In order to do that, McCovy has had to adjust his style of play.

    “”Last year, he was just cleaning up everybody, making sure everybody fell after every hit,”” Smith said. “”But now, he’s a little bit smarter because he has to try and learn his defense, so he’s working not to hurt the lineman this year.””

    It’s something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by his head coach.

    “”I really like his development,”” Stoops said. “”He’s had a better camp and his attitude has been great, and his work ethic’s a lot better, so he’s maturing nicely.””

    Now, with an improved sense of the defensive schemes, McCovy becomes even more dangerous, which means so do those surrounding him.

    Because after all, as McCovy said, “”It’s contagious.””

    “”If one person does it,”” he said, “”it’s going to carry on to the team.””

    -Roman Veytsman contributed to this story

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