Weight: 202 lbs.
High school: Curtice (OH) Clay
Class: Redshirt senior
Jersey number: #32
Last year: I ranked Kovacs #13 and said he would make 75 tackles. He was All-Big Ten Honorable Mention with 75 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 1 pass breakup, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 interception.
Nope, that's not a typo - I predicted the exact number of tackles Kovacs would make. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Kovacs had very good season in 2011, when he finally had a defensive coordinator who understood his strengths and weaknesses. Greg Mattison used him as a blitzer, contain man, and disguising his underneath coverage responsibilities. Mattison avoided using Kovacs deep whenever possible, and that allowed the sure-tackling safety to find the ball carrier and bring him to the ground. His best game in 2011 came against Western Michigan when he had 10 tackles and 2 sacks, including the fumble-causing hit that linebacker Brandon Herron returned for a touchdown. Last season also marked the third consecutive year in which Kovacs grabbed a pick in a big game - Wisconsin in 2009, Ohio State and Notre Dame in 2010, and then Notre Dame again in 2011.
Going into the 2012 season, Kovacs is one of the most indispensable members of the team - from walk-on to likely team captain. His backups are junior Marvin Robinson and freshman Allen Gant, with Josh Furman also able to play there if necessary. Robinson is a capable backup, but last year's legal struggles and some mental lapses place him a step or two below Kovacs. There's not much we don't know about Kovacs at this point. He's a very good tackler, a relentless blitzer, and a heady player. What he lacks in speed and athleticism, he mostly makes up for in angles and intelligence. He will be a good-to-very good football player, because he has been since his first season. I used to bemoan his lack of athleticism as a serious downside, but the deployment of Kovacs is one of the things that convinced me of how well Mattison fit with this team. Unlike Greg Robinson, who used Kovacs to cover a deep half or the middle of the field in 2009-10, Mattison will continue to blitz Kovacs off the edge and use him mostly as an in-the-box defender. He will continue to rack up tackles, take down the quarterback a few times, and pick off one or two passes. I wouldn't be surprised to see Kovacs earn All-Big Ten honors, if only as a Lifetime Achievement Award type of recognition.
Prediction: Starting strong safety; 80 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions; All-Big Ten Second Team
Poll results: Ricky Barnum was first with 59% and Fitzgerald Toussaint was second with 29% of the votes. Kovacs was third with just 9%.