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UCLA football: Punter Covington not worried about freshman jitters

August 09, 2013|By Chris Foster
  • The UCLA football team will play its first game Aug. 31 against Nevada at the Rose Bowl.
The UCLA football team will play its first game Aug. 31 against Nevada at… (Los Angeles Times )

Sean Covington, UCLA’s freshman punter, has a lot to learn.

“I don’t get ‘butterflies,'” Covington said.

Well, they're flying insects. But that’s not important right now.

What Covington claims immunity to are those cold-sweat, night-terror nerves that can accompany a first college game. When he lines up to punt against Nevada in the Rose Bowl on Aug. 31, it will be just another football moment, he says.

"I guess I have a stiff stomach,” Covington said.

He has more going for him than that. Covington averaged 46.5 yards on punts and made eight of 11 field goals as a senior at St. Petersburg (Fla.) High School last fall.

“The first time I saw him I thought, ‘Man this kid is extremely talented,” said UCLA assistant coach Jeff Ulbrich, who handles special teams.

He better be.

Covington has to replace Jeff Locke, one of the nation’s top punters the past four years. Locke was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings. Before leaving for the NFL, Locke spent time tutoring Covington this summer.

“He helped me a lot with my form and muscle memory,” Covington said.

No one is expecting him to be Locke.

Said Ulbrich: “Sean’s a true freshman. That’s telling, isn’t it?”

Covington is also receiving helpful advice from kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn, who was also thrown in as a true freshman last fall.

“What a great resource for him,” Ulbrich said. “Ka’imi went through it last year and it is still fresh to him.”

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