After injuries stalled his freshman season, expect big things from the wide receiver, Florida teammates predict.
In the 13 months he’s been on the Florida campus, we’ve yet to really hear from wide receiver Jacob Copeland, one of the highest-rated members of the 2018 recruiting class.
He’s been silent, off the radar, due to injuries.
Last fall, it was a knee injury in preseason camp that sidelined him for most of the 2018 season. Then, in the spring, it was an injured quad muscle that relegated him to the sideline — and to more silence.
He’s been quiet. So very quiet.
But that’s about to change, apparently.
For one, he’s finally healthy now, 100-percent ready to go.
And, if you listen to his receiving brothers on the team, who have been watching Copeland throughout preseason camp, the redshirt freshman is going to start making all kinds of noise on the field this season.
"Jacob Copeland, he's electric,” wide receiver Trevon Grimes said after Tuesday’s practice. “He's back healthy now. He's one of the most electric players on the team, as well as KT (Kadarius Toney). He’s having a great camp, a phenomenal camp. He's going out there, he's made plays, probably every practice. He’s just an overall phenomenal receiver.
"Most definitely (he’s going to be a factor this season). He's getting there. He's getting along. He's learning the offense quick, very quick, very fast. Faster than I did. He's going to be a star."
In a talented and crowded wide receiver room, Copeland has managed to stand out during preseason camp. This probably comes as no surprise to Dan Mullen and the offensive coaches. They’ve seen this coming since they started recruiting him when they arrived at Florida after the 2017 season — and since they’ve had him on campus now for more than a year.
Just last spring, wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales said that on the brief occasions Copeland has been healthy, he’s flashed explosive playmaking ability as a receiver, and with the things he can make happen after the catch.
Now, that playmaking ability has started showing up daily on the practice field.
“Oh, he’s had a great camp,” senior wide receiver Van Jefferson said. “He’s fast, he’s really fast. I think just him being around some of the old guys and him learning, he’s really brought that into camp and he’s been making a lot of plays out there and he’s been catching a lot of people’s eye. He’s going to have a great season.
“Oh most definitely, I think he will (surprise a lot of people). He had a rough coming in, with the injuries and stuff like that, but now I think he’s ready to play and he’s going to show people what he has.”
According to his teammates, Copeland is the strongest wide receiver on the team, one of the fastest and probably the quickest coming out of his cuts and getting separation from defensive backs.
That’s how the other receivers describe him.
“The biggest thing with Jacob is when he clicks and when he starts going, he is gone,” senior wide receiver Josh Hammond said. “He is fast. He turns on quick when he needs to.”
"Oh, no doubt, no doubt,” tight end Lucas Krull said. “You just see how fast he is, the way he cuts in and out of his routes. What I especially love is the way he explodes up to get the ball. He can jump through the roof, so it's kind of fun to watch.
“Cope's special. He's going to be something special for us this year, no doubt. He's a guy that's worked his tail off. Obviously, real frustrated last year with the injuries, but he's stayed healthy, really kept his head down and worked hard, so I'm excited for Cope."
Following a frustrating, injury-filled first year at Florida, Copeland has gotten himself healthy and has stayed that way throughout preseason camp. Now, with the start of the season only a little more than a week away, it’s time for his silence to end.
And for the noise to begin.
“Jacob is an extraordinary playmaker for us because he is so versatile,” sophomore tight end Kyle Pitts said. “He is fast, strong. He is the strongest receiver we have. He is a freak of nature. He is going to be someone special this year.”