Highly recruited WR Jacob Copeland details official visit with the Gators

Jacob Copeland at practice for the Under Armour All-American game [Photo courtesy of GatorCountry]

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.

“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.”


    • Sure hope so, Glen.

      As all this drama plays out over the next three days, thinking about it myself nearly about all the time, I reminded myself of something Richard Dery said a few days ago (different subject) about all the “chatter” that goes on with potential recruits….. along the lines of, “…the only commitments that matter are the ones that come with a binding letter”.

      So as we rise or fall this week, I’m going to stop listening to the chatter and just trust Dan Mullen & Company. Hell, if I don’t do that I’ll probably drive myself nuts and start drinking again!

  1. Florida coaches are new. They have no prior established relationship with returning players. They will play the best player. Definitely FLORIDA.
    If you liked the old coaches you will love new coaches. Much more upgrade.

  2. To my silly brain, this is a no brainer if I was a recruit and the most important thing to me was playing early and having a good chance to train for the NFL.

    I get that Bama will give you a better chance in the next year or two at a National Title, but don’t count out how quickly DM can turn this thing around.

    Bottom line…you wanna play now….why wouldn’t you choose the Gators?

  3. I had the opportunity to speak to an old school savvy ‘Bama fan who told me a lot of Alabama people feel Florida is the biggest threat to the The Tide’s dominance in the conference because of Mullen and the talent level in the Sunshine State. Not just because of State’s near victory this year, but because of the preparation and toughness Alabama fans saw year-in-year-out from them Starkville ‘Dawgs.
    All the faithful should recall how fast the Gator offense tanked after Mullen’s departure. Addazio’s play calling was similar to Macmuffin’s, but with one of the greatest collection of talent ever seen in CFB. Two dives, and let Tebow’s genius get you a first down. No more.
    The new head coach was smart enough to bring Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator with him back to Gainesville.

    • Hey Eugenio! Great to read you posting again…..and great insight above too. Many years ago the legendary Bear Bryant once commented that if Florida ever got it all together, they would dominate the SEC for years. Well, we did. And we’re fixin’ to do it again.

  4. Mullen, Gonzalez and Hevesy have such strong histories, including time together at Florida, then at Starkville that Copeland, Petit-Frere and Gouraige can be confident about their futures with the Gators. Those Bama fans are right to fear what Florida can become again. Five years into the future and Dan Mullen may well be regarded among the elite head coaches while Nick Saban May be retired or in the uncomfortable career stage of every recruit wondering, “Just how long will he stick around?”
    I believe we’ll land all three of our highest priority guys on offense.

  5. Eugenio, I think you are absolutely correct. The Gator offense has never been the same since DM left. Why did you have to mention Steve Addazio….now I’ll wake up in a cold sweat for a few nights till I get that offensive offense out of my head.

    I guess calling plays and coordinating and offense is really not that easy, or at least the Gators have sure made it difficult. Let’s see… Addazio, Weiss, Pease, Roper, Nussmeier…. I’m probably missing a name or two. Good grief! Welcome back Dan Mullen!!!

  6. Great to hear another top prospect had a good visit here in Hogtown.
    But my beef is with the pads in the pants (or lack thereof). Why don’t they just give the players shoulder pants and helmets and forget the lower pads, since that’s where it’s evolving to anyway?
    I wonder how many knee caps will get shattered in the coming years. It’s really sad how many careers (see: John Egbunu) are shortened by knee injuries, and all in the name of ”speed and quickness”, allegedly.
    See Copeland’s ”twitter pic” in the Gator uni, and ponder it yourself.