Covington to LB, Mangieri to D-line among spring changes for IU #iufb

The first of 15 spring practices came and went without issue Thursday, and for an Indiana program that watched its most recent season tumble off the tracks due to injury, that’s the first of many good signs to come.

IU opened its fifth spring under coach Kevin Wilson aiming to finally put together its first winning season. A few position changes announced Thursday may be part of that formula.

Wilson announced that linebacker-turned-quarterback Chris Covington is moving back to linebacker and standout bandit Nick Mangieri is transitioning to the defensive line, among a couple other moves. Neither switches involving Covington and Mangieri come as total surprises, with Wilson saying Covington’s return to defense was the fulfillment of a wish.

“I think he could be very good at quarterback, and we could use him there, but we could use him on defense,” Wilson said. “It’s what he wanted and, to me, you kind of go with where your heart is. If it’s good for you, it’s good for the team.”

Covington arrived as a freshman linebacker last season before transitioning to quarterback prior to IU’s season opener. He saw only brief action at the position during the final moments of four games, before playing the second half of IU’s loss at Iowa on Oct. 11 when starter Nate Sudfeld suffered a season-ending separated shoulder injury. Covington also injured himself that day, tearing his ACL and missing the rest of the year.

“He’s gonna be limited coming off the knee injury,” Wilson said. “… He expressed his concerns, I agreed and that’s what we did.”

Mangieri started all 12 games at the bandit position, which is essentially a hybrid position between defensive end and outside linebacker, making 37 tackles and recording two sacks as a junior. He was one of the bright spots of IU’s improving defense, but he’ll leave the starting bandit duties to Zack Shaw this season.

“He’s gotten bigger, stronger … but we’re gonna play a little more two-deep, three-deep there and thought he’s gonna help the team more (up front),” Wilson said. “It’s also Zack Shaw played as his backup there and probably played better than Nick. Not putting Nick down, but Zack played equally as well. We think Nile Sykes, a young player, can come in there and help us. So we just thought we had a little more depth and tried to get our best 11 — or really our best 22 defensive guys out there.”

Wilson also announced that Robert McCray is moving from bandit to defensive line and Zeke Walker is going from safety to linebacker. McCray played in the final 10 games of the season last year, making one tackle against Michigan State. Walker redshirted last season, briefly serving as the No. 3 quarterback option on IU’s depth chart.

Wilson also announced that offensive linemen Jacob Bailey and Ralston Evans, quarterback Nate Boudreau, defensive back Kenny Mullen and linebacker Marcus Oliver will each be limited this spring due to injuries. Freshman Coray Keel and UAB transfer Marqui Hawkins will miss the spring session with injuries, but Wilson expects both to be able to workout this summer in time for the season.

Defensive back Will Dawkins, who redshirted his freshman season in the fall, is sitting out this spring due to an NCAA eligibility ban. Wilson said the NCAA never officially certified his academic eligibility, but he hopes to have Dawkins available to work with in the summer.

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