Jordan McPherson/SEC Country
Coveted 4-star WR prospect Jacob Copeland remains a top target for the Gators in this signing class.

Alabama impresses top Florida WR target Jacob Copeland as high-profile recruiting battle heats up

Ryan Young

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Crimson Tide coaches reach out to Jacob Copeland after national title win

Alabama coach Nick Saban never loses sight of the big picture, so even in the postgame glow of the program’s fifth national championship in the last nine seasons, the Crimson Tide coaching staff was apparently already back to work on its recruiting class late Monday night.

Highly coveted 4-star wide receiver Jacob Copeland, a former Florida commit who remains a top target of the Gators, tweeted that he was contacted by the Tide after its epic 26-23 win over Georgia and seemed impressed by the gesture.

Copeland, from Pensacola, Fla., is ranked the No. 9 WR in the Class of 2018, according to the 247Sports composite. He de-committed from Florida during the coaching coach, but he has been a priority target for new coach Dan Mullen and his staff (with new freshman quarterback Emory Jones making his own push for Copeland).

SEC Country’s Zach Abolverdi ranked Copeland No. 1 on Florida’s WR wish list  and considers Alabama and Florida to be the prospect’s top suitors. He’s set to visit Alabama on Jan. 26 and Florida on Feb. 2 before making his decision by National Signing Day.

Copeland also tweeted his support of Saban and the Tide prior to the game Monday night.

While Alabama used its national spotlight to make another strong impression on Copeland, Florida wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales made a compelling sales pitch of his own last month when he told Copeland he envisioned him in the mold of former Gators star Percy Harvin.

“‘You’re another Percy.’ That’s what he told me,” Copeland told SEC Country. “Footwork wise, a lot of coaches don’t really look at that. So just knowing that he watched my footwork and the way I get around to make himself open, that made me lock him in real close.”

The two are in regular communication and his recruitment will remain a top story line for the Gators over this next month.

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In other Florida football news

  • In the latest Chomp Chat podcast, Abolverdi and Florida broadcaster Jeff Cardozo discuss the timeline for when Dan Mullen might have Florida back in the national championship hunt.
  • National college football reporter Brett McMurphy tweeted out the national championship odds for next season from one sports book, which has Florida at 60/1.
  • SEC Country’s staff voted on its “Way-too-early Top 25” for 2018. Florida didn’t make the list, but the top two teams should look familiar.

Recruiting roundup

  • Florida’s new coaching staff re-offered Caleb Tannor, a 4-star defensive end from Lithonia, Ga. Tannor committed to Georgia last summer before de-committing in November. The 247Sports composite ranks him as the 19th best weakside defensive end in the Class of 2018.

Florida basketball could be without PG Chris Chiozza

The Gators got some surprising and not so positive news Monday when senior point guard Chris Chiozza tested positive for strep throat.

He is being held out of practice and his status for the Gators’ home game Wednesday night with Mississippi State is now in jeopardy. The team was optimistic Chiozza would be able to play, but it is expected to be a game-day decision.

Chiozza might be the most indispensable player on this Florida roster. He averages a team-high 31.7 minutes per game and is the unquestioned floor leader, having come through in the clutch yet again Saturday at Missouri with a steal and game-winning layup in the final seconds.

Chiozza is averaging a career-best 13.1 points along with 5.8 assists per contest. If he can’t play, regular 2-guard KeVaughn Allen would likely handle a larger share of the point guard duties while freshman Michael Okauru could see an increase in playing time.

Mississippi State comes into Gainesville with a 13-2 overall record and 1-1 mark in the SEC, while the Gators (11-4, 3-0) are unbeaten in conference play.

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What they’re saying on Twitter

Florida wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland has an optimistic view of where the Gators will be a year from now:

Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos had a rough night Monday, including missing a potential game-winning field goal at the end of regulation. Former Florida kicker Eddy Pineiro had this to say:

Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin posted a photo of he and predecessor Jeremy Foley visiting with students from Japan here to learn about U.S. college athletics:

Former Florida (and Alabama) QB Luke Del Rio was one Gator pulling hard for the Tide last night:

While fellow former Gators QB Austin Appleby shared his appreciation for Alabama freshman Tua Tagovailoa’s game-winning TD pass to beat Georgia:

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