For J.C. Copeland the decision was an easy one.
He sat down and discussed the situation with his head football coach at Troup County High School Head Coach Bubba Jeter and addressed the pros and cons of the schools that had offered him.
Those offers included ones from South Carolina, Auburn, Ole Miss, Maryland, Louisville and his most recent one from the University of Tennessee.
“I wanted to get my coaches advice on what I should do,” Copeland told InsideTennessee.com. “We talked about all the positives and negatives of each school.”
The one that apparently stood out was the one he finally decided on taking, and there is a reason why.
Copeland became the fourth commitment for the University of Tennessee on Tuesday morning.
“Georgia and Florida were all concerned about my height, that’s why they aren’t offering me,” Copeland explained. “Coach (Monte) Kiffin and Coach (Ed) Orgeron told me that it didn’t matter to them ... that they saw my athletic ability and that I was just what they were looking for. They believe in my talents, even though I might be shorter than what some might like.”
How tall is Copeland, who is listed at 6-foot-2 on most recruiting services?
“I’m actually 6-foot-0 barefooted,” Copeland admitted. “I’m 6-1 with shoes on.”
Apparently, it wasn’t his height or lack thereof that excited the Volunteers. According to Coach Jeter the Tennessee coaches were impressed with his explosiveness off the football.
“He has a very quick first step,” Jeter said in an earlier interview. “He has a mean streak; he is a high-energy guy that explodes off the ball. He loves causing havoc in the opponent’s backfield.”
Scout.com Southeastern Expert Chad Simmons agrees with Jeter about Copeland’s quickness off the football.
“His first step is very, very quick,” Simmons said. “He has great anticipation and he gets off the football extremely well.”
Simmons got the opportunity to watch Copeland on three different occasions in person, not just on film.
“Every time I have seen him, he is always the first man off the football,” Simmons explains. “He is the type player that doesn’t slow down once he puts the pads on. He plays hard every down, his motor never stops, he is always chasing the ball until the whistle is blown.”
Copeland was also impressed with what Coach Kiffin and Coach Orgeron brought to the table for him.
“Coach Kiffin is one of the best in the business,” Copeland said. “I want to get to the NFL; if anyone can get me there its Coach Kiffin and Coach Orgeron.”
“Coach O told me he has coached several shorter guys on the defensive line. He believes in my talents and my athletic ability. He is the type of coach that I will love playing for.”
Copeland was also impressed with another Volunteer assistant coach.
“Coach (Lance) Thompson is a great coach; he makes me feel like I’m very important to their future success,” Copeland said. “He seems to care about me as a person, not just as a football player. I was impressed by all the coaches at Tennessee I have spoken to.”
Copeland made it clear that he has always had a desire to play for a big-time football program in the SEC.
“Tennessee has a great tradition; they have over 100,000 fans in the stands for every home ballgame. All the SEC teams don’t have that type of support,” Copeland said. “I have 14 offers but they are the one school that meets all my expectations.”
Is there one school that Copeland always liked growing up?
“Yeah, I always thought I would be a Georgia Bulldog,” Copeland said. “But they told me I’m too short. I have to do what’s best for me, and that’s going with the school and coaches that believe in me.”
How do Copeland’s parents feel about his decision?
“They are behind me 100 percent,” Copeland said. “They see how excited I am about the University of Tennessee.”
Copeland hasn’t made the trip to Knoxville yet, but already is looking forward to camping at UT on June 1.
“I’m really excited about going to camp there,” Copeland said. “I want to get to know the coaches better, in person and to see what all the excitement on Rocky Top is all about.”