The Wolverine

January 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 17 of 83

T By John Borton he good folks at Hillsdale College — the ones who didn't believe Jordan Kovacs could quite measure up in football at their Division II school — must be shaking their heads now. Kovacs, the two-time walk-on at Michigan, is the one-time Bo Schembechler Most Valuable Player for the 2012 squad. The fifth-year senior captain's highlight moment capped a storybook Michigan career and the 92nd annual Michigan Football Bust at the Laurel Manor in Livonia. Kovacs not only came away with Michigan's top individual award, voted on by his teammates, he also garnered the Robert P. Ufer Bequest as the "senior who demonstrated the most enthusiasm and love for Michigan." Not bad, for someone who had to try out to even become a member of the team years ago, then try out again after a knee injury made his long-shot story an even longer one. Michigan head coach Brady Hoke acknowledged the man for whom the award is named, and assured that he'd take great pleasure in seeing Kovacs recognized. "I know Coach would definitely like the recipient of this award," Hoke said. "Knowing Coach, being here eight years with him, down the hall, there are certain things he admired in people — loyalty, toughness, guys who have a passion for the greatest game there is, and guys who were truly teammates, guys who had the love of Michigan." Big Ten coaches picked Kovacs as a second-team all-conference honoree, after a regular season in which he recorded 65 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, a crucial interception against Michigan State, two passes broken up and a forced fumble. Kovacs led a secondary that ranked second in the NCAA in pass defense, allowing 155.2 yards per game. The captain wound up starting four seasons for the Wolverines, racking up 331 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, seven sacks, five interceptions, six forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He's third on Michigan's all-time list for forced fumbles and No. 12 in tackles. "It's been an honor to play for this university," Kovacs said. "It was a dream come true when I first walked 18  the wolverine    January 2013 on. That's how I approached it, day in and day out. I'm proud to wear the winged helmet, just giving everything I could to this university, as have the rest of my teammates. I can't be thankful enough." Kovacs was one of 23 seniors honored in the annual event put on Dec. 3 by the U-M Club of Greater Detroit. Those who hadn't yet received their M rings from the club did so, and all were greeted warmly by the evening's emcee — Michigan athletics director David Brandon — and a crowd of around 1,400. nard Robinson — not gone down to injury near halftime of a crucial loss at Nebraska. Hoke wasn't seeking excuses, but did assure the Wolverines gave it everything they had for a group of seniors who set the pace. "They led the team, and they played one of the toughest schedules in the country," Hoke said. "Our four losses, the four teams we played against were 46-4. These guys never, ever flinched. We're proud to have coached them. We're proud to be associated with them. We're going to miss them. Dream MVP Jordan Kovacs Completes His Journey With Highest Honors They weren't celebrating a Big Ten championship squad — that's for another Bust, in another year. But Hoke and the crowd expressed appreciation for a team that helped Michigan football through a second transition in five years, and did so at a high level. "Tonight is about a group of young men who accepted a change, accepted a staff philosophy change, from the offense to the defense to what you do on special teams," Hoke said. "I couldn't be more proud. "You always have a journey, and that journey of the senior class of Team 133 — I could not be more proud of those 23 young men. We can't thank them enough for everything they've done in moving the dial for Michigan football. They laid a foundation that was left for them from Team 132. That foundation has always been based on commitment, accountability, respect and the trust we're going to have for one another as a football team. "The seniors embraced the legacies of Michigan, the traditions that we have. They accepted the responsibility of being a senior football player at the University of Michigan. They represented Michigan football as well as any senior class that I've been around." They'd likely have played for a Big Ten championship in Indianapolis, had one senior — quarterback De- "We didn't meet the expectations at Michigan. We know that. That's Big Ten championships, and that's going to BCS bowls. But the seniors we honor here tonight continued to move the program forward. "We honor them, we thank them for their efforts, thank them for their struggles. Because this is a hard game to play, and it's a hard game when you have to get ready and prepare every day." Robinson prepared as well as any, and wound up voted a captain by his teammates. That allowed Michigan's MVP of the past two seasons to receive the Captain's Award along with Kovacs. Robinson enters the bowl as Michigan's all-time leader in total yards (10,669) and touchdowns (91). He's third on the U-M list for career rushing yards (4,395) and touchdowns (42), fourth in passing yards (6,250) and touchdowns (49), and fourth as well in 100-yard rushing games (19). Robinson urged all of Michigan's offensive linemen to stand when he was speaking, spreading the praise. "Without them, I wouldn't be anything," he said. "Those guys do the Kovacs began his career as a walk-on and capped it by winning the Bo Schembechler Most Valuable Player Award for U-M's 2012 squad, as well as the Robert P. Ufer Bequest, given to the "senior who demonstrated the most enthusiasm and love for Michigan." photo by per kjeldsen

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