Coby Tippett’s football journey brought him to a college under an hour away from his hometown.
If only the storyline featuring the son of one of the all-time greats in New England Patriots’ history was that simple.
Coming off a two-interception game that earned him recognition as the Colonial Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Week, Tippett’s ball-hawking tendencies are reflected in Rhode Island’s 2-0 start to the spring 2021 season.
A senior safety from Sharon, Mass., Tippett has proven to be a quick study when it comes to fitting in with his new team. He’s picked off three passes, registered one pass breakup, and made four solo tackles.
“Let’s go Rhody football” https://t.co/GBcQndTnok
— Andre Tippett (@AndreTippett) March 20, 2021
“It’s been a great process so far,” said Tippett when asked about making an impact on a URI program that’s risen from the land of the unranked to become No. 18 in the latest STATS Perform FCS Top-25 poll.
YURVIEW WILL TELECAST URI VS. DELAWARE FOOTBALL THIS SATURDAY, MARCH 27 AT NOON. YURVIEW IS COX CHANNEL 4 IN RI.
Noted head coach Jim Fleming, “He’s come out and contributed big-time. Great kid who works extremely hard.”
At one point, Tippett’s availability for the current campaign hung in the air like a Hail Mary attempt. Citing family reasons that tugged at his heartstrings, Tippett entered the NCAA transfer portal last spring after spending three seasons (2017-19) as a key contributor at the University of Towson.
There have been many tragic tales told in the last year where COVID-19’s wrath has cut very deeply, yet the situation that set the wheels in motion for Tippett to ultimately land in Kingston turned his world upside down.
Over a four-day span last April, Tippett saw his dad Andre lose both his stepfather Willie Lovett and his mother Frances Tippett Lovett. Both died of complications from coronavirus.
“That’s something no one should have to go through,” said Coby Tippett, who felt the correct course of action was to find a college football port-of-call that’s closer to home than Maryland, where Towson is located.
“My grandmother (Frances) was always keeping tabs on me. My dad loves social media and was always keeping folks updated through Facebook and text messages,” added Coby, who made waves during his New England-based high school playing career at Xaverian Brothers in Westwood, Mass. and Connecticut’s Cheshire Academy.
It didn’t take long for Rhode Island to reach out to Coby once his name popped up in the NCAA’s transfer portal. Fleming said the Rams recruited Coby in high school and understood that they were now dealing with a 20-something who sought a fresh start in light of a tragic family ordeal.
“I felt it was going to be the best for me and my family for them to not only see me play my final two seasons, but for me to be near them and be able to see them much more,” said Coby.
By early June, Coby was enrolled in URI and taking summer classes.
Great team effort in back to back overtime wins.. https://t.co/Xv5jio2VXx
— Andre Tippett (@AndreTippett) March 22, 2021
“I had a plan in what I wanted to do, but I felt it was the perfect fit for me. I’ve had a lot friends who’ve gone to the school. Plus, I knew a couple of players who are currently here,” he said. “I’m only 45 minutes away from home. It ended up working out perfectly, but it was a little interesting when everyone found out I was returning to the CAA and going a little bit closer to home.”
At the dawn of summer workouts, it became a question of whether Coby would be able to suit up right away or be forced to sit after transferring within the same conference. Initially, the CAA ruled that Tippett was ineligible.
“I was planning on just practicing and being that extra coach on the sidelines … helping out the guys,” he said.
The second crack at the waiver process yielded a more favorable outcome.
— Rhody Football (@RhodyFootball) March 22, 2021
“We sent something out right at the end of summer, then some news came out about the NCAA possibly giving waivers for onetime transfers,” said Coby. “Trying to figure out the details as far as being closer to home … I had a lot of support from Towson, URI, and the CAA. Everyone was working tirelessly during the process.
“I’m glad the CAA made the right decision and I’m able to be out there competing with my teammates,” he added.
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, Tippett appeared in 21 games over his three-year run at Towson. As a freshman in 2017, he recorded a pass breakup in the season finale against the same URI team that allowed him to realize his clear-cut objective of being near to family.
“I’ve only known these guys for half a year, but I feel like I’ve known them for a couple of years. They gave me a warm welcome,” said Tippett. “It’s been nothing but love and appreciation.”
A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played his entire NFL career with the Patriots, Andre Tippett wasted no time before congratulating his son after reaching him following last Saturday’s 17-10 overtime win over nationally-ranked Albany.
“It felt good to put on a show for them and get the love at the game,” said Coby.
The elder Tippett then reminded his son to not be satisfied.
“Can you do it again? Can you back it up with another good week?” was what Andre told Coby. “He wants to see me stack [good game on top of good game].”
Back-to-back road games have given way to URI’s first game of the season at Meade Stadium. This Saturday at noon, the Rams host No. 11 Delaware. The game can be seen on YurView, Cox channel 4 in RI. The loosening of restrictions has enabled members of the Tippett family to plan an in-person outing that includes watching Coby fly around in the secondary.
“I’m excited for that to happen,” said Coby Tippett, a football player and a homebody at heart.