Notebook: Copeland’s commitment to Florida causes mom to leave, but she returns later

Jacob Copeland at signing ceremony Wednesday at his Pensacola school.

Based on his Tweets in the final few days leading up to signing day, it was obvious that Pensacola Escambia wide receiver Jacob Copeland was agonizing over his decision.

He apparently wasn’t getting a whole lot of help from some of his family members. That also was obvious Wednesday at his signing ceremony.

His mother showed up wearing a Tennessee hat and an Alabama shirt, while his brother, a Florida fan, donned a Tennessee hat.

When Copeland announced that he was going to Florida. His mother abruptly got up and left the podium, walking right in front of her son, who was speaking at the time. Later, she came up and hugged Copeland.

The point is, it was a tough decision for the former Florida commitment, and he should be commended for the way he handled it, UF coach Dan Mullen said.

“There was a great deal of discomfort for him,” Mullen said. “Over the last 72 hours, in talking to him, he’s having a lot of stress put on him, a lot of people trying to pull him in different directions.

“The one thing I always told him was, ‘You’ve got to block that out. You’ve got to do what’s best for your future.’

“He did a lot of soul searching and a lot of praying. He knew in his heart that this is where he belonged. Everybody in the country should be excited about him coming here. That’s a young man living his dream and doing what’s in his heart.”

Copeland committed to the former staff last summer. Shortly after the coaching change, Copeland decommitted and reopened his recruitment. Mullen said Copeland handled that well also.

“He called and said, ‘Coach, I’m going to decommit and take visits.’ I appreciated that,” Mullen said. “We had a great conversation. He said, ‘I still love Florida and can’t wait to come visit and get to know you and everyone on the new staff.

“Everything was handled right. We communicated with him the whole time. Obviously, there was comfort with the university, comfort and coming and representing his home state.”

Return of the four

After following the process they’ve gone through and checking on their academics over the past few months, Mullen has welcomed back the four players who were suspended last season for credit card fraud — Jordan Scarlett, James Houston, Ventrell Miller and Rick Wells.

“I did my research and studied, and we got through the semester,” Mullen said. “I wanted to see where everybody was academically and how seriously they took the responsibilities of being a member of this football program. And met with everybody that was involved.

“One of the things I talked to them about is obviously you’re going to be held to a slightly different standard because of what’s happened in the past, but I’m not going to judge you for what you’ve done in the past. That all happened before I got here. I am going to judge you on what happens in the future.

“To see those guys, to have them come back, they’re thankful for the opportunity to show what they can do as part of our football program, not just on the field but as part of the football program and what it means to be a member of this program.”

Dan the ‘copter man

Many made a big deal out of Georgia coach Kirby Smart showing up at high schools in a helicopter during recruiting. Mullen said what’s the big deal?

“I’ve been doing that for years, going to high school games and cruising around the state of Mississippi,” he said. “I always want two pilots because I don’t know how to fly it myself.”

Mullen said there have been some scary moments.

“I’ve been in the bulb with (offensive line coach) John Hevesy and he moves to look out the window and the whole thing tips sideways,” Mullen said. “I said, ‘Don’t move, just sit still.’

“I’ve been up there in the bulb once where the guy said, ‘We’ve got to put it down, I don’t feel good about this.’ I was with an assistant coach. He didn’t get back on. I ended up going to the game. He said, ‘I’ll meet you there, I’m not getting back on.’ ”

Lots of buy-in

Florida’s current players are in midst of the challenging offseason strength and conditioning program. It’s tough, but the players are buying in, Mullen said.

“I see our guys working,” he said. That’s what’s really exciting. I haven’t seen resistance, which is fantastic. I’m really excited about their buy-in.

“The work ethic and how they show up and the attitude they’ve had of working, I’m really excited about.”

Mullen and the rankings

Mullen has always been more into player evaluations and development than recruiting rankings. But he said he understands that the rankings are important at UF, and that the plan is to put together highly ranked classes every year.

“I have really high expectations for the program,” he said. “I’ll put my expectations up there against anybody. We want to build a program that’s going to compete for championships on a yearly basis.

“To do that, you need to do a great job recruiting, a great job in every aspect in recruiting and when they get on campus to develop the players to put them in a position to be successful.

“Hopefully, we continue to grow and continue to build, and every year, we have a better signing class than we had the year before.”

Percy’s new neighbor

Mullen and his wife recently rented a house in Gainesville, and one of their neighbors is former UF wide receiver Percy Harvin, who played for Mullen when he was the Gators’ offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer.

“(My wife) sees him walking his dogs every morning after she brings the kids to school,” Mullen said. “She sees him more than I do. But he’s back in town, living in Gainesville.

“It’s great to have him back around. Hopefully, we’re going to get him back in school and finish his degree.”


  1. Jacob was very emotional due to his mom. Glad mom came back & congratulated him. Come on over to Gville mom Copeland. Your new Gator family can’t wait to meet you & support your son! Hope to meet the Copelands at the O&B in April. Go Gators!

  2. With the most high respect I commend you on how well you handled yourself. Your going to be a great young man and that showed in how you carried yourself in a serious situation. Real men cry and as young man stepping into manhood you are on your way. Keep God first and all else will follow. I have 3 sons and I will sacrifice for them. It’s a mothers duty to sacrifice. So no matter what has happened she’s your mom. But most of all there’s a lesson in what just happened to you. Right now Jacob you have a lot of cheerleaders and bandwagon jumpers. God is in control that’s one thing I know. Continue to follow your heart and gut feelings. We have them for a reason. So proud to see you transition to the next stage in what I tell my sons (life). Right now your winning!👉🏽✋🏽👍🏽= YOU STAY UP. Sincerely Mrs.Hunter

  3. Just go do your thing, Jacob Copeland. Get yourself an education. Study hard and play hard. I feel how you feel, son. I played hard while my Mother had to work hard. She never got to see me play. She heard a game on the radio while in the hospital and almost pulled her stitches out with excitement when she heard me score 3 touchdowns that night.
    My father …never saw me practice, never gave me a pat on the back and saw only one of my games, my last high school game, when dragged there by my brother and uncle. I had 100 yards on my first 4 carries, almost 200 for that game. He tried to pick me up like I was a hero when the game was over but I made him put me down. Maybe I should have let him have HIS moment but I was too used to his never showing that it insulted me to get the glory my team mates so deserved. Good luck and may God bless and keep you as you grow your life.

  4. Welcome young receiver, Jacob Copeland! From Wes Chandler to Chris Collingsworth to Reidel Anthony to Ike Hilliard to Jacquez Green to Percy Harvin (I could do this all day!)… well, you’ve signed on with the real, W.R. ‘U’. And we Gator fans are looking forward to watching you too, grow & become another ”elite receiver” at THE REAL W.R. ‘U’! Go Gators!

  5. Got to love this guy!! Took the heat from mother and family but went with his heart and sign as a UF Gator. Welcome to Gator Nation Jacob, I like your style and commitment to the Florida Gators. Will be watching, praying and cheering for you brother. Chomp On!! Show them you are right and become another UF Great like many that came before you and together we will watch the Gator Nation rise once again to the team nobody wants to play.