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U. of Pittsburgh
After All-American career, Covert named to College Hall of Fame

Former Pitt star honored

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

By Paul Zeise, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Former Pitt All-American Jimbo Covert yesterday was named one of 13 inductees into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Jimbo Covert as a Pitt offensive lineman in 1981. (Joyce Mendelsohn, Post-Gazette)

"This is quite an honor for me," said Covert after the 2003 class was announced by the National Football Foundation in South Bend, Ind.

"I was fortunate to play with a lot of great players and I was also associated with a lot of great coaches like Joe Moore, who is the greatest line coach of all time."

Other notable former players who will be inducted into the Hall in December are Notre Dame quarterback Joe Theismann, Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders and SMU wide receiver Jerry LeVias, the first black player to receive a scholarship in the Southwest Conference.

Covert played for the Panthers from 1978-82, beginning his career as a defensive lineman.

He was a reserve on the '78 team, was redshirted in '79 after his ankle was injured, and was switched to offensive tackle in the spring of '80.

"Coach Moore, who I owe everything to, told me after my first practice at tackle that I would be an All-American some day," said Covert, who was a two-time All-American. "Looking back, he knew what he was talking about."

The 1980 team, which went 11-1 and finished No. 2 in the country, is considered by many to be one of the best teams in college football history because it featured a number of future NFL players.

The offensive line that year had Covert, who played left tackle, Rob Fada, Emil Boures, Russ Grimm and Mark May. All five played in the NFL and Covert, May and Grimm had excellent pro careers.

"Rob Fada never got the credit he deserved, but he was an outstanding player like the other three," Covert said.

"That line has to go down as one of the best ever. And that team has stood the test of time with so many guys going on to have great NFL careers.

The most frustrating thing is we didn't get a chance to play for a national championship because of the way the bowl system was.

"But I have no doubt we would have beaten [national champion] Georgia handily that year if they'd have picked us and not Notre Dame to play in the Sugar Bowl."

Covert, a Freedom High School graduate, was picked by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 1983 NFL draft (the sixth player selected overall) and was a standout for the team until he retired in '91.

Twice he was named to the Pro Bowl and in '86 he was named the NFL's offensive lineman of the year. He also was one of the primary blockers for Bears legend Walter Payton and a member of the team that won Super Bowl XX.

Covert still lives in Chicago and runs his own healthcare consulting company called Keystone Strategies. He often visits Pittsburgh because he does a lot of business with the UPMC Health System.

Covert is the 22nd former Pitt player or coach selected for induction into the Hall of Fame and the sixth in the past nine years.

Paul Zeise can be reached at pzeise@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1720.

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