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Britain Covey is Here to Shock You

Don't bet against the diminutive underdog

PHILADELPHIA - At 5-foot-8, and a probably way too generous 173 pounds, Eagles rookie receiver Britain Covey has grown fond of shocking people.

The former Utah star was often electric with the ball in his hands at the college level.

"I feel like my resume in college speaks for itself," Covey said. "I love the ball in my hands. You don't need to be tall. You don't need to be this crazy, big athlete. Once you get the ball in your hands, it's just happening and it's kind of a God-given ability."

A natural underdog Covey traces his football success to the advice his grandfather once proffered.

“There’s a quote my grandpa used to say that’s kind of been the motto of my career: ‘Build on your strengths and then organize to make weaknesses become irrelevant,’” Covey said.

If that sounds profound, understand Covey's Pop Pop wasn't just sitting in the backyard sipping on some lemonade. Stephen Covey was a noted self-help author whose 7 Habits of Highly Effective People sold over 20 million copies.

And Britain is a living testament to his grandfather's advice.

Covey, 25, remains a longshot when it comes to the Eagles' 53-man roster but at his size, to star with the Utes and populate the same WR room as A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor basically is the definition of a highly successful young person.

Covey's an older rookie due to his college career being interrupted by a two-year LDS mission to Chile but he managed to pile up 184 receptions at Utah and had five returns for touchdowns (four punts and a kickoff).

Britain Covey

Britain Covey

He also crossed the 4,000-yard mark when it came to all-purpose yardage and even went 3-for-3 passing the football as a former high school quarterback, including a 64-yard score on a throwback to current Baltimore backup QB Tyler Huntley.

Most players with that resume for that kind of school are celebrating after the NFL draft but Covey has a different hill to climb.

“That’s kind of been the story of my whole life. A 5-8 kid who played quarterback in high school. My whole life I’ve kind of had that [underdog label] and I think it’s led to my mentality," he said.

One of the children watching Eagles practice assumed Covey was the kicker and to be fair the Provo native could fit in the Jake Elliott (5-9, 167 pounds) suit.

“One of the kids over here thought I was a kicker," Covey smiled. "... It’s a positive thing because when you can’t rely on size or this crazy athleticism you have to be very detailed, and I think that’s what I’ve kind of strived for in my whole career. Being very detailed, being very smart, and understanding where my advantages come from."

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Still, as Chip Kelly once said when it comes to football: "We want taller, longer people because bigger people beat up little people."

To date, Covey has been the exception at Timpview High School and with the Utes.

So why not the Eagles?

"I came in the first couple of weeks and I think I shocked people with how much better I was than I thought I would be and how I'm not intimidated," Covey said.

In fact, Covey has always been an effective blocker despite his stature.

"I’m not the guy who’s going to block 250-pound linebackers, but I always ranked highest on my team in blocking because I was smart,” he said. “It’s about leverage, it’s about running people off and understanding things like that."

The obvious path for Covey in Philadelphia is the return game, which struggled mightily last season. He's currently taking reps as a punt returner behind Jalen Reagor and Greg Ward.

“I know that’s a big reason I was brought in here, so that’s a big thing I’m focusing on,” Covey said. “I got my start in the return game as a freshman at Utah by simply catching every punt so that’s what I’m focusing on right now, catching every single ball to the point where the coaches can trust me enough to put me out there."

Covey has already gotten close to Ward, like Covey a former quarterback at the University of Houston before shifting to slot receiver.

"Having someone like Greg Ward in the room, such a great mentor for me. Similar size. Really smart, a quarterback in college. I feel like we are a similar type of player and to be able to have him mentor me is [great]," he said.

Covey also believes former QBs have an advantage when playing receiver, especially in the slot.

"A lot of the great slot receivers in NFL have been quarterbacks at one time because you understand read progression and what the quarterback is thinking, leverage, different things like that so it makes a huge difference even at this level," he said.

"I think I’m more physical with the ball in my hands than people think."

With the preseason opener against the New York Jets set for Aug. 12, the next goal is for No. 41 to shock some people at Lincoln Financial Field.

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Sports. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talker Jody McDonald, every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube.com and JAKIBSports.com. You can reach John at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen