Jacob Copeland, the No. 1 wide receiver prospect from the state of Florida, has long had the Gators in consideration to land him on Signing Day, but to say his recruitment hasn’t taken several unexpected turns would be an understatement.
After committing to the previous coaching staff under Jim McElwain, Copeland backed off his pledge following McElwain’s departure. Then, Alabama picked up its recruitment of the 6-foot-1, 195-pound pass-catcher, leading to an official visit with the Crimson Tide last weekend.
But the Gators haven’t gone away, and head coach Dan Mullen and wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales have gone all-in on the dynamic downfield threat.
After an official visit to UF over the weekend, Copeland is expected to sign with either Alabama or Florida, although Tennessee and Florida State have made a late push to land him.
— Jacob Copeland 🇭🇹 (@JCope1era) February 4, 2018
“It was great being around the players and staff,” Copeland said of his visit to Florida. “It was good being back in Gainesville to get a glance of how things are changing.”
While Copeland was familiar with what UF offered under McElwain, he had yet to come back to Gainesville since McElwain’s ousting. He said it was reassuring to see that Florida appears to be back on the rise.
“My purpose of going to visit was to check out the new environment with the coaching staff and the players. I enjoyed the time I was there,” Copeland said. “Everything was good, Coach Mullen made it feel good to be around him, Coach Gonzales also. I caught good vibes.”
Asked about any differences he noticed just two months into Mullen’s tenure, Copeland was frank with his assessment.
“It’s more and more competition going on with the program,” he said.
And Mullen’s message to the Pensacola native assured him of his future success, both on and off the field.
“If you want to come here I promise you I’ll give you every resource to help you do what you want to do in life,” Copeland said of Mullen’s pitch. “He said you will have all the support you need to get there, from not just me, but the staff and the rest of the Gator Nation family.”
If Copeland indeed puts pen to paper and signs with the Gators on Wednesday, it’ll come down to the renewed energy he felt at Florida and how they’ve prioritized him throughout his recruitment. But at the end of the day, Copeland is looking for a program that gives him a chance to contribute from the day he arrives on campus.
“It’s one of those (programs) you can’t go wrong at. They’ve made me feel like a priority since they got there,” Copeland said. “I’m looking to just have the opportunity to make an early impact.”