UCLA loses punter Sean Covington, adds Matt Mengel

Heading into what could be a banner season, one of UCLA’s least-contested positions is suddenly unsettled.

Punter Sean Covington is no longer with the program, according to Bruin Report Online. An All-Pac-12 honorable mention as a true freshman, Covington was not listed on the Bruins’ most recent media guide roster at Pac-12 Media Days.

The 6-foot, 218-pound punter averaged 41.9 yards per punt, placing 18 inside the 20-yard line. Paired with a strong coverage unit, he helped UCLA limit opponents to 3.94 yards per punt return — the 16th lowest mark in the country. Covington also shared kickoff duties with kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn, landing 21 touchbacks.

In Covington’s absence, the Bruins have added Matt Mengel out of Long Beach City College. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound player who has drawn rave reviews from punting experts.

Chris Sailer wrote that Mengel has “one of the strongest legs in the nation,” with kickoffs that are already ready for Division I. Kohl’s Kicking praised him as “an impressive combo specialist” who hit five-second hang times on his punts, though his consistency is “solid not spectacular.”

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  • Thomas J. Gray

    OK — does anyone know what’s going on here? Why did Covington leave??

    • ethan

      He’s thinking of going to SC from what his friend said?

      • fuksc

        Makes sense. If he has problems in the classroom at UCLA, looking at south central as a second choice would seem logical. So many others do.

  • pac12*

    He did not have the min. gpa to be elgible.

    • Chey Tor

      That’s what I’ve heard as well.

  • facescar

    Whatever happened, I’m actually curious to see if this leads to any serious issues in-game for the Bruins.

    I remember that, two years ago, Locke’s fantastic punting really helped us out of some tight spots (like the one that set up the safety in the Nebraska game).

    • Chey Tor

      Not too concerned about the punt game as I am about the kicking game. Fairbairn is in his third season and he needs to step it up. He should be nailing at least 80% of all his kicks from the 20 to the 50 yard line. Fairbairn’s performance will be instrumental to UCLA’s national championship run. If Fairbairn keeps missing field goals left and right, we’re not playing in Dallas next January. He needs to be good enough that Coach Mora has the confidence in him to kick a 50+ yarder when necessary and not have the offense go for it because the odds are against Fairbairn. The kid has the leg. He just needs the confidence.

      • facescar

        IIRC, Fairbairn is perfect inside 38 or so yards. He gets iffy between 38 and 52.

        • Chey Tor

          Inside the 40 should be automatic and I’ll give him that. But big games are won on 40+ yard field goals and we don’t have that weapon right now but other schools do. That’s going to be our downfall this year if Fairbairn can’t hit from 40+. We have lost a number of games because Fairbairn couldn’t connect, most notably the Pac 12 title game against Stanford two years ago and the ASU game last year.

        • RepuBruin

          He missed two inside the 40 against ASU last year. That was costly, to say the least!

    • VB

      Calm down. It won’t. Having a great punter certainly helps, but I’ve never anyone ever say, “Well, they had a great season and could have won the national championship but for the fact that they did not have a good punter.” Now, a place kicker, yes, that can really hurt you if you don’t have an automatic toe. See Kaimi Fairbairn.

  • barry1817

    sad to see a player leave a school. Strange that no news about what is happening.

    And no matter where he goes, hoping that he does well, unless of course, he is playing against UCLA>