Jordan Kovacs rises to become Michigan's most consistent defender
ANN ARBOR -- It's hard to put a price on what fourth-year starter Jordan Kovacs means to the Michigan football team.
It isn't for Jordan Kovacs: $375.94 per tackle, $9,090.91 per turnover forced, $3,030.30 per start.
He is, after all, $100,000 in debt after paying two years of Michigan tuition.
Safe to say, it's worked out well for the former walk-on and his Wolverines.
“There’s one (player) that’s always consistent, and that’s No. 32,” defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said Friday, when evaluating this year's preseason camp. “That young man has had a tremendous camp. You talk about consistency, if you graded every play, I would like to see that grade because he’s really working hard and he’s been the most consistent."
"He just gets better and better, and that's what it’s all about.”
Kovacs' story is well-known at this point. He sat at his table at Big Ten media days last month answering waves of questions about his storybook rise into fame.
About receiving no offers to play college football coming out of Toledo. About following his father's footsteps to Michigan. About trying out not once, but twice to make the Wolverines.
About becoming a fourth-year starter, and one of the finest safeties in the Big Ten.
He then was asked if he ever tires of getting asked about that tale.
Moments later, another reporter sauntered up, sat down and fired his first question: "Do you ever get tired of your own story?"
Kovacs smiled at the irony.
"I like being known as a walk-on, because I think it kind of tells you about some of the things I've had to overcome," he said. "When you think walk-on, you think tough road, and that's exactly what it was. That walk-on chip is something I always carry with me.
"Just knowing that no school in the nation gave me a shot drives me every day. I don't mind people remembering the story or thinking of me as a walk-on. It doesn't get old."
Kovacs is entering his fourth year as a starter, and his numbers are impressive. He's racked up 266 career tackles, including 21 for loss, and had a hand in 11 turnovers.
He needed two tryouts to make the team, but started 33 times at safety in his first three years. That makes him the Wolverines' second-most experienced player heading into his senior season.
He's considered a lock to be named a team captain this year.
Kovacs didn't expect any of it.
"I wasn't coming in expecting to start for four years," he said. "I would have been crazy if I said that. I came in expecting to be a walk-on and to grind it out in practice and to give the offense a great defensive-look team and just contribute on weekdays -- and, hopefully by my junior or senior year, play a little on special teams."
Kovacs got a lot more than he bargained for.
Not a bad way to drop $100,000.