Rice defensive tackle Christian Covington has decided to forego his senior year of college and make himself eligible for the NFL Draft, which will be held in Chicago from April 30-May 1.
Covington released the following statement regarding his decision to enter the draft:
I want to thank Rice University and the Rice Football program for the honor and privilege of suiting up for the Owl. My four years at Rice have marked some of the best years of my life and I am truly blessed to have been able to attend such a prestigious University with amazing people and play with such incredible teammates.
The decision for me to leave was not an easy one, but through a lot of prayer, and the help of my family, my decision to declare became clear. I am truly grateful for the opportunity Rice gave me to pursue my dreams and will forever remember the achievements that we made as a team that will surely go down in Rice Football history.
I want to thank the Coaching staff, Strength staff, Training staff, Front Office Staff, Academic Staff, and all involved with the Rice Football; you truly impacted my life. I thank my teammates for the bonds and memories that I will never forget, and I thank the friends I have made who will remain a part of my life for years to come.
Thank you all and I wish you the best with everything you do in your futures. God Bless and Go Owls.
"We wish Christian all the best as he enters this new phase in his career," Rice head Coach David Bailiff said. "In his four years at Rice, he distinguished himself as someone who not only put in the work to realize the great deal of potential he had as a player, but also as a student who embraced the opportunity to pursue his education. He has developed his skills to the point that he now is ready to pursue his dream of playing at the next level while also being in position to graduate. He is a great example of what Rice has to offer, a chance to realize all your dreams both on and off the field."
Covington was a three-year starter after redshirting in his initial year at Rice and is on track to graduate in May. He entered his junior year as a consensus All Conference USA selection in addition to receiving several preseason All-America mentions, but was sidelined for most of the year due to injuries. After anchoring a Rice defense that helped the Owls win their first conference title in 56 years in 2013, he became the first Rice sophomore defensive tackle to earn first team all-conference honors since the return of two-platoon football. He played in seven games this year and 33 in his career. He finished with 119 tackles (76/43), including 23 tackles for loss (11.5 sacks) while forcing four fumbles, breaking up four passes and blocking two kicks.