We introduced the Charlotte 49ers in an early segment to kick off the week, the former FCS representative and somewhat fresh football program jabbing its way into the Conference USA this upcoming fall.
To further advance on the hot topic, we welcomed in Charlotte offensive tackle Jamal Covington to Today’s U, where he and I discussed the past, present, and future for the 49ers.
Alex Kolodziej: Jamal, 2015 will be the initial year for you at the club in the FBS, amidst the C-USA. Whether it’s honor, anxiety for fall, or nerves of being on the big stage, what’s the approach been like as you guys prepare for week 1?
Jamal Covington: One of our biggest approaches this offseason is trying to develop team chemistry both on and off the field and building a sense of comradery amongst all of our teammates. One of the things that I have noticed throughout my football career is that the best teams are the teams that were together and played with a sense of purpose and competed each and every day because they didn’t want to let the guy next to them down. Our work ethic has been there and has been consistent since day one back when we started in 2012; its just getting everyone together on the same page chasing one common goal, and fine tuning our strengths and developing our weaknesses so that we can be the best Charlotte 49ers football team that we can be.
We understand that going into Conference USA, we will be playing elite division one talent unlike anyone we have played against in the past, and we have to rise to the occasion in order to be able to compete at this level. Between now and September 4th we have alot of work to do but as of right now I feel as though we are on the right track in putting ourselves in position to compete because of how we come to work every day and compete day in and day out.
AK: On more of a personal level, you were named to the C-USA preseason 4th-team. What’s it like to know that the offense will lean on you once more to anchor the offensive line?
JC: It is truly and honor and a blessing to have been selected to have been selected to the pre season Conference USA team, however its not about me or what “I” can do for our football team. My brothers on the offensive line are the anchor of this football team. When you have phenomenal talent on the offensive line from players like Casey Perry, Thomas LaBianca, Daniel Book, and Jared Barr (just to name a few) its no mystery why we are the offensive line that we are. I am just blessed and honored to be apart of it! We all take pride in being the offensive line and we take pride in being the anchor and “heart and soul” of this football team.
I am the offensive lineman I am today because of how those guys and Coach Ratliff push me everyday to be the best Jamal Covington I can be and how we hold each other to a high standard when it comes to competing everyday. Whether its in the weight room, on the practice field, or in the classroom, we want to be the best. We all believe that greatness in a mindset, and in order to be great you have to build on that every single day and be consistent with how you attack each day. Before you know it, greatness will become a habit and being phenomenal in everything you do will be second nature.
AK: Playing within a group of high-powered offenses (WKU, ODU, Marshall, etc.) opposing defenses will also plan around some top-tier playmakers in wide receiver Austin Duke and tailback Kalif Phillips. Can you touch on their potential and what they bring to the table for a first-year program looking to make a splash?
JC: All of the teams in Conference USA are phenomenal and have top-tier talent. Players like Austin Duke, and Kalif Philips are valuable assets to how our offense will succeed this fall. The sky is the limit, and the possibilities are endless as far as what those guys will do in the fall. It’s going to be exciting to see what those guys are going to do and what kind of plays they are going to make and it all starts in practice. How successful they are and how successful we are as a team is all based on how we come out and compete as a team every day in practice. We are all in this together and we need everybody in order to be the best we can be this season.
AK: While most won’t have the 49ers to be competing for conference championships in the opening year, what are some points head coach has Brad Lambert stressed upon to make 2015 as successful as possible?
JC: Coach Lambert is a phenomenal coach and the lessons that I have learned from him throughout my career so far has definitely molded myself as well as all of my teammates into the outstanding football players and young men that we are today. One of the things that he has stressed to us is the importance of paying close attention to detail and attacking each day one step at a time. He has taught us and helped us understand that the road to being conference champions is a process, and we have to take it one step at a time, one rep at a time, one workout at a time, one day at a time, and play close attention to how hard your work each step of the way.