CHICAGO — A score of 19 on the ACT was a game-changer for Chris Covington.
The Austin native took the test three times while at Al Raby High School, tallying a 14, 18 and finally 19. The last score — he, his mom and high school football coach said — qualified him academically for Indiana University — where Covington is also a junior linebacker.
"Getting the 14 the first time, it was devastating, a huge disappointment," Covington said. "I had extra help in school, extra studying and it obviously paid off. ... It's a dream come true to be [at Indiana]. It's a blessing. I hoped to be here. I prayed to be there. I've got to take full advantage of it."
Indiana's senior assistant athletic director for media relations, Jeff Keag, said the school could not comment on the ACT scores due to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act rules. The national average ACT score is 20.
Covington's mom, Sheneesha, said her son "never stopped trying" when it came to the ACT.
"It was a challenge for him, but he wanted to go to a Division I school," she said.
Raby football coach Deangelo Dereef said Covington is "Mr. Al Raby" when it comes to football because he was the school's first Division I scholarship athlete and he "set the bar high" for his teammates in practice and in the gym. He said Covington worked even harder when it came to taking the ACT.
Covington was a standout quarterback at Raby, throwing for nearly 2,000 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior. He was recruited to Indiana as a signal-caller and played that position as a Hoosiers freshman, but he was injured during his rookie season and moved to linebacker as a sophomore. This year, he has 15 total tackles, including three for losses, for the 3-2 Hoosiers, who host Nebraska on Saturday in IU's Homecoming game.
"I think he's physically and mentally stronger and more confident, and I’m very proud of him," Hoosiers head coach Kevin Wilson said.
Covington, a liberal arts major, is scheduled to become the first of five children in his family to graduate from college. He wants to work in broadcasting and return to the West Side to help the next generation.
"I want to give back and just talk to the kids and tell them what they need to do to succeed," he said. "It’s not hard to do what’s right. You’ve got to put your mind to it."
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