As Jim McElwain tries to rebuild Florida football into a championship program, one of his mottos is “recruit daily or die.” Join us here on SEC Country for a daily recap of the latest UF recruiting news , tales from the trail and perspective on what it all means for the Gators. Following legends
When Jacob Copeland transferred to Escambia High School after his junior season, the 4-star wide receiver knew he had big shoes to fill.
However, that’s exactly why he made the move.
“This school is a legendary school,” Copeland said. “If you’re from Pensacola and you want to be one of the big dogs in football, this is where you play.”
The school has produced a pair of first-round draft picks in running backs Alabama’s Trent Richardson (2005-08) and Florida’s Emmitt Smith (1983-86), the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. Both Richardson and Smith won SEC Player of the Year honors and set the single-season record for rushing yards at their respective schools.
Mike Bennett in his first year at Escambia after spending 18 seasons at Pensacola High School. Having coached in the area for more than two decades, Bennett said Copeland compares to the Pensacola greats.
“He’s up there with some of the best athletes that have came through this high school, that’s for sure,” Bennett said. “He’s been a name in this area since little league football, which is a big deal around here. So he was able to get the hype around him early and has created some excitement in the city again.”
Escambia is implementing a spread offense this spring and Copeland will line up at several positions in 2017, including running back. Top-100 WR @JCope5era getting some action at running back in practice. pic.twitter.com/9jAnC6Seff — Zach Abolverdi (@ZachAbolverdi) May 9, 2017 Alabama or Florida?
Like Richardson and Smith, Copeland is a coveted recruit being pursued by some of the nation’s top programs.
The 6-foot, 192-pound prospect holds more than 30 scholarship offers, but his top 5 consists of SEC schools. Copeland could follow in the footsteps of Richardson or Smith, with a potential battle brewing between Alabama and Florida.
“UF was always a dream school for me,” Copeland said. “Just knowing it’s Florida, you can’t go wrong there. You’re going to get a great education there, they invented Gatorade, it’s a lot of things (that are appealing).
“The Crimson Tide, man, that’s a legendary school. They have national championships. Nick Saban is a legendary coach.”
Copeland visited the Crimson Tide twice in April and shared a car ride with Nick Saban on the day of Alabama’s spring game, making a big impression on the Under Armour Armour All-American.“We were just cruising along,” Copeland said. “Saban is just a really cool coach. I can vibe with him. He’s not always serious like people think. If you spent time around him, you’d understand.”Copeland has spent even more time with Florida coach Jim McElwain. He offered the receiver as a freshman and has personally recruited him for more than two years.“I was the first […]