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Perpetual eligibility: Is Utah’s Britain Covey the heir apparent to BYU’s Taysom Hill?

Football players Britain Covey and Taysom Hill speak at the RootsTech conference at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — There are a slew of awards handed out at the close of every college football season.

The Heisman Trophy is the most notable, but there is also the Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Award, each given to the player of the year. There is the Jim Thorpe Award, awarded to the nation’s best defensive back, and the Davey O’Brien Award, which honors the country’s best quarterback, and, well, you get the idea.

There is basically a prestigious award for every position on the football field, not to mention All-America honors and more beyond that.

With so much recognition of the athletes, deservedly so, college football is hardly in need of another award. And yet, that is what CBS Sports’ Matt Hinton recently proposed, albeit facetiously.

What is this new award, you ask?

Hinton calls it the “The Taysom Hill Trophy for perpetual eligibility.” It honors the college football player who has been on the scene for so long that there is no way, at first glance, that they could possibly still be eligible to play.

And this year’s winner, according to Hinton, is Utah’s Britain Covey.

A junior this coming season, Covey has been a part of the Utes’ program since 2015, with a two-year hiatus thrown in for a mission served for The Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He redshirted this past season, as part of his recovery from a torn ACL and meniscus, injuries he suffered during the 2018-19 season.

To put Covey’s longevity in perspective, he was in the same freshmen class as Lamar Jackson, who is entering his third year in the NFL and is the reigning MVP.

In truth, BYU, Utah or Utah State usually have a good chance at boasting the oldest college football player nationwide, and thus have a strong likelihood of bringing home the coveted Taysom Hill Trophy, thanks in large part to returned missionaries.

Interesting enough though, that actually wasn’t the case in 2019-20 and won’t be again this year.

The oldest current college football player is Colorado placekicker James Stefanou. A native of Melbourne, Australia, Stefanou is a rising senior and 33 years old, a decade older than Covey, who turned 23 in March.

Stefanou also isn’t close to being the oldest college football player of all time. That honor belongs to Alan Moore and Tom Thompson, each of whom was 61 years old when they last took the field, Moore in 2011 and Thompson in 2009. Both Moore and Thompson were kickers, at Faulkner University (Alabama) and Austin College (Texas), respectively.

The oldest FBS player of all time is South Carolina wide receiver Tim Frisby, who was 40 when he last played in 2005.