Coven Breaks Away from Pack in Senior Year


Published: November 15, 2007

With their 24-21 win against the College of the Holy Cross on Nov. 3, the Fordham University Rams have clinched both a share of the Patriot League championship and a spot in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. Fordham’s success has largely been due to their impressive running attack, led by Jonte Coven, FCRH ’08, who received the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week award for his performance against the Crusaders.

Following their Nov. 3 victory in the biggest game of the season thus far, head coach Tom Masella had only words of praise for Coven and his fellow senior players.

“I am so proud of this team,” Masella said. “They made all the plays they had [to] and that’s a tremendous credit to our seniors. They’ve been that way all year.”

According to his teammates, Coven has been bringing more to the team than just his running prowess. Running back Xavier Martin, FCRH ’11, who has nicknamed Coven “J-Hawk”—because of the way Coven attacks the field reminds Martin of a hawk hunting its prey—calls Coven the “spark” of the team.

“When the team sees him start moving, he hypes up the whole team to start moving,” Martin said.

The 2004 Patriot League Rookie of the Year recipient, who served as a back-up over the past two years, has made up for lost time, becoming the full-time starting running back. So far this season, Coven has adjusted remarkably to the starting role, leading the team with 891 yards gained and averaging 89.1 yards-per-game, for second best in the league.

Coven has stated that his personal goal is to rush for 1,000 yards by the end of the season. Nonetheless, he takes more pride in his team’s accomplishments than his own.

“We’ve been waiting for this moment for four years,” Coven said. “And now that it’s here, it’s a phenomenal feeling.”

Coven’s successes in football date back as far as high school, where he served as the running back for Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga., where he was named an Honorable Mention Class AAAAA All-State by the Atlanta Constitution Journal. Though he also excelled on his high school’s baseball and track teams, his first love was football, as quarterback John Skelton, CBA ’10, points out.

“You can really tell he loves the game,” Skelton said. “He goes out to practice every day and might joke around a bit and lighten things up, but he always works hard and tries to get better.”

Coven attempts to instill that work ethic into the freshmen running backs on the team, including Martin, who is leading all Patriot League freshmen running backs in rushing yards, with 581. Martin, the three-time Rookie of the Week award winner, believes that Coven’s leadership has helped him on and off the field.

“He is a mentor to the young running backs like me,” Martin said. “He shows me that, though your back is against the wall, you can still push through adversity.”

When Coven missed time with the team due to the death of his grandfather, Skelton described the backfield as “very chaotic,” with the freshmen running backs not “up to speed.” With Coven’s return, the running game tightened refocused and prepared to do damage on the field.

According to Martin, Coven’s ability to lead by example has helped the team achieve its impressive record and has given the Rams a chance to make a run in the postseason.