Richard Kovalcheck is the first to admit that his football career at Vanderbilt hasn’t unfolded as he had expected.
At this point, he’s just making the best of it.
Kovalcheck, the Commodores’ third-string quarterback, transferred to VU with high hopes last summer after two seasons at the University of Arizona, where he started 11 games during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
Instead of competing for playing time at Vanderbilt, Kovalcheck has been buried behind starter Chris Nickson and No. 2 quarterback Mackenzi Adams.
With his career winding down, Kovalcheck, a senior, has come to grips with his status.
”You just kind of have to accept where it is,” he said. “There’s nothing else I can do.”
Kovalcheck arrived at Vanderbilt last year by taking advantage of an NCAA rule – which has since been rescinded – that permitted players who already received undergraduate degrees to transfer to a graduate school elsewhere without having to sit out the customary one year.
Kovalcheck is currently in his second year in VU’s demanding Owen Business School, carrying a heavy workload that requires him to study diligently even when the Commodores travel for road games.
Football hasn’t worked out equally well, but Kovalcheck said he has no regrets.
”I don’t look at things like that, because you don’t know where anywhere else would have worked out,” he said. “You can’t say, ‘Well, if I would have gone there, this would have happened.’
“I just make the most of this experience. It’s been a great experience for me with football and as a person. I feel I’m a more well-rounded person.”
Kovalcheck was once a former prep star at St. Augustine High in San Diego, Calif., who received an in-home recruiting visit from Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer.
Disillusioned at Arizona and often the brunt of public criticism from Wildcats coach Mike Stoops, Kovalcheck decided to move on.
But in 2006, he attempted only 14 passes for the Commodores. Through three games this season, he’s yet to make an appearance.
Not playing regularly has been an adjustment.
”I love playing football,” Kovalcheck said. “I feel like I’m at home when I’m out there on the field. What player doesn’t want to play?”
Kovalcheck said it’s all about attitude.
“I just try to do my best to be ready to help the team,” he said. “With this being my fifth year and my last year, I just want to go to a bowl game. I just want to win. If it comes down to me having the opportunity to go out there and do it, I’ll put it all out there on the field.
“I’m going to be supportive of the coaches’ decisions. I’m not going to bring any negative energy to this football team. It’s easy to get frustrated, but it’s real important for the locker room to be positive where everybody’s together. Any negativity in there can have a ripple effect.
“That’s the last thing I would want to be.”