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ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida quarterback signee Emory Jones decided on the Gators the night before the early signing period.
The first recruit he told?
Top-100 wide receiver Jacob Copeland.
After mulling over his options for two days, Jones said he choose the Gators over Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State around 11 p.m. on Dec. 19. His recruiting efforts began right away.
“The night before signing day, he hit me up and let me know that he was locked into Florida,” Copeland said.
The message from Jones wasn’t his first time communicating with Copeland. They’ve been friends for two years and got to know each other through recruiting.
“He’s a funny dude and cool to be around,” Jones said of Copeland. “We talk about a lot of things off the field that aren’t about football. We’re just friends all together. That translates to the field and that’s a great thing to have between a quarterback and receiver.”
Copeland and Jones visited Alabama together during the process and attended a couple of the same camps, including the Future 50 underclassmen combine on Dec. 31, 2016.
Exactly one year later, Copeland and Jones returned to those same fields at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex as Under Armour All-Americans.
“It was a good experience once again,” Copeland said. “He threw a couple good passes that I caught. He’s a great quarterback and I know he wants me to be one of his go-to guys at Florida.”
Jones threw 3 touchdown passes to Copeland on Sunday and the top-100 overall recruits hung out all weekend. Their chemistry is evident in the passing game.
“It was a natural connection,” Jones said. “I felt it, and hopefully we can keep it going on the next level. Every time I threw the ball to him, he would come back to the huddle and we would dap each other up.”
Jones is the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback and No. 41 overall prospect in the country, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Copeland is excited about the possibility of playing with Jones in college, but not because he’s a big-name QB.
“I like Emory just because of who he is,” Copeland said. “I’ve known him for two years now. He’s a great quarterback, but his personality stands out about him. I can relate to him. We’ve both been on the same grind and now we’re UA All-Americans.”
The question now is will they be Florida Gators? Jones is officially part of the program and will enroll early next month. His top target is Copeland, who de-committed from UF on Nov. 25 after the coaching changes.
The Gators are still one of his finalists, along with Alabama and Tennessee. Copeland will officially visit Florida on Feb. 2 before making his signing day decision the following week.
“Adding Emory was a good pickup for them,” Copeland said. “I’m going to chat it up with him, see how everything goes and see how the [Florida] coaches are talking. Just because he committed, that doesn’t mean I’ll end up going there.”
It will certainly help Florida’s chances, though. Jones said he’s “very confident” with Copeland and doesn’t have to force the issue with him.
“I don’t bug him about it. We just have regular conversations,” Jones said. “I know he has to make the best decision for him, his family and his future. But I tell him he needs to bring his talent to Gainesville so we can do it big together.”
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