Position series feature - Damian Copeland

University of Louisville junior wide receiver Damian Copeland has been injured throughout much of his college career. Now, Copeland is healthy and is expected to be one of the breakout performers for the Cardinals this season.

University of Louisville junior Damian Copeland wanted a new look.

So after the Cardinals played in the Belk Bowl last season, Copeland went with the blonde Mohawk hairstyle look.

"Sometimes people will joke around with me," Copeland said of the hair cut. "But I am just trying to do my own thing. I wanted something different.

"Maybe somebody will come up with a nickname for me."

If Copeland performs anything close to the hype that has been talked about his game this spring and summer, he'll be quick to get a nickname from the fans.

The 6-foot-1, 188-pound Copeland has shaken off the injury bug, put himself in prime contention to start at the Z-Receiver slot and could be a major performer for the Cardinals' offense this coming season.

"My first time taking reps with him was in the spring, but what he did there has carried over into camp," U of L sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. "He can stretch the field and do it all.

"He's a dangerous type of player."

Copeland, who only has eight catches for 113 yards during his career, said he's trying to stay healthy and take advantage of this opportunity.

He's battling senior Andrell Smih and redshirt freshman Charles Gaines – who switched from defense – for the starting spot at the Z.

"I am just trying to go out there and make plays and get better every day," he said. "I want to stay humble and praise God. I just need to go make plays."

Copeland has never been in a situation to make plays before now.

As a true freshman, Copeland was projected to see the field but suffered a knee injury during the preseason and he was red-shirted. He missed the spring of 2010 with a foot injury and then played seven games that season, hauling in seven catches for 113 yards. He had three catches for 33 yards against Rutgers.

The coaching staff said he looked ready last season but suffered a knee injury against North Carolina and missed much of the season.

Now, Copeland gets a chance.

"It's been all about maturing for me," he said. "I just had to do the little things like taking care of my body and going in there and studying extra film and show it on the field. We're all competing, so the little things are important.

"I was motivated to try and get on the field. I tried to work hard in the offseason and made sure I did the little things, studying film to get on the field."

Copeland, who has a tattoo of the state of Florida down the side of his left arm to "make me think of home," is from Palmetto, Fla.

And he was always known for his speed. Backup quarterback Will Stein said he can be a "difference maker" because he's so fast and can stretch the field.

Copeland said he hasn't been timed in a while, but is a "4.3-4.4 guy" in the 40-yard dash. He was timed in 4.41 at the Florida Gators camp before his senior year of high school when he caught 52 passes for 718 yards and 11 TDs.

"I have always been known for my speed, that's a big thing for me," he said. "I want to try and help stretch the field. I just want to help this team win.

"I am more than excited. I am just ready for a big year. I am ready for us to out there as a team and give these fans what they want."

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