AUBURN, Ala. — Jacob Copeland had a busy weekend.
In a three-day span, the 4-star wide receiver visited Florida, Clemson and Auburn — the three schools that have intrigued him most in his recruiting process. The biggest shakeup of the weekend happened at Clemson, a school he was starting to favor. Copeland said his visit to the Clemson spring game actually showed him something different from what he expected.
Clemson is no longer near the top, or in the mix, after what he referred to as a surprising experience in Death Valley.
“Clemson was high for me. Once I got there, I felt like everybody was a stranger. I didn’t feel too welcome around there. I thought it was going to be one of the places I could live for, but it didn’t feel like a fit for me,” Copeland told SEC Country. “It changed a lot up for me.”
That feeling he felt at Clemson made him step back to recognize his priorities. He wants that family feel, a place where he feels welcome and comfortable.
The two places he’s felt that on every visit: Auburn and Florida. On Sunday, Copeland listed the Tigers and the Gators as his top two schools and said he expects those to be the programs he’s choosing between when he announces at the Under Armour All-America Game.
“The top two, by the looks of it. Auburn and Florida,” Copeland said. “When I show up at those campuses, I always feel love. I can do what I want. I don’t have to do this and that like other schools want me to do. I always come here and feel welcome, and I’m always welcome at Florida. Those two places I feel really good at and know I could live there for four to five years.”
Other schools could potentially work their way into the mix.
Miami, Georgia and North Carolina were the first programs Copeland mentioned. He also referenced his long-standing relationship with Tennessee wide receivers coach Kevin Beard, who recruited Copeland during stints with the Miami and Florida International coaching staffs. That bond could help the Volunteers re-enter the mix.
Still, it’s Auburn and Florida that stand out.
He took in the Gators’ spring game on Friday night and came away impressed by quarterback Feleipe Franks. One thing that will help Florida is coach Jim McElwain’s involvement in Copeland’s recruitment. Copeland said head coaches aren’t typically a big factor in his recruitment, but McElwain is one of his primary points of contact.
“They’ve been recruiting me so long since freshman year. They’ve been recruiting me heavy ever since. I talk with coach Mac every day. I communicate with a lot of staff there,” Copeland said. “I already feel like I’m a player over there.”
Copeland decided to end his weekend at Auburn for two reasons.
One, he enjoys a chance to chop it up with wide receivers coach Kodi Burns at every opportunity. And two, the lackluster visit to Clemson made Copeland want to end his recruiting weekend on a high note, which he always knows he can expect from Auburn.
The trip gave the 6-foot-1, 195-pound receiver from Escambia High in Pensacola, Fla., a chance to talk with Burns and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey. Copeland and Lindsey checked out some tape from Auburn’s A-Day spring game, which showed Copeland how different Auburn’s passing game could look in 2017.
“I came into their office to check out what was going on with the spring game to see how much they were throwing the ball. In the first half, seeing they put up like 300-something yards, they ain’t going to key in on one receiver. They’re going to throw it all around the field in open spots,” Copland said. “[Jarrett] Stidham, he threw the ball real well from what I just seen on the highlight tape in the spring game. The true freshman Malik [Willis], he looked good. That’s a good look for me.”
Copeland doesn’t have any visits planned in the near future, but knows he’ll be back at Auburn for Big Cat Weekend on June 3.