Copeland has a happy homecoming

TAMPA, Fla. – It was quite a homecoming for Damian Copeland on Saturday. Playing less than a half hour away from his hometown, Copeland had a big game for the University of Louisville in a 34-3 win over South Florida.

When he was younger, University of Louisville senior wide receiver Damian Copeland spent a lot of time at Raymond James Stadium.

Copeland would make the 25-minute drive from his hometown of Bradenton, Fla., where he was a standout at Palmetto High School to watch South Florida and Tampa Bay Buccaneers games.

On Saturday, Copeland was one of the star attractions at the stadium.

Copeland had five catches for 63 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown catch from Teddy Bridgewater, as the Cardinals whipped South Florida 34-3.

"That was pretty good," Copeland said with a smile, noting his mom, dad, two sisters and a grandmother were among the 40 fans in the stands rooting for him, noting "it's just people who root for me."

Copeland had injuries early in his career, so this was the first time he had been able to star in a game the Cardinals played in Tampa.

"I was hoping (to score in front of the home fans)," Copeland said. "This is very big. I just had to stick to my fundamentals.

"Playing in front of what used to be in high school all of your family and friends, that's big and it's a good feeling."

Copeland even did it in front of his former high school coach – Raymond Woodie – who is now the linebackers coach at South Florida.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Copeland has become U of L's most consistent receiver after entering last season with just eight career catches.

But finally healthy, Copeland started to shine.

As a junior, Copeland helped the Cardinals to the Sugar Bowl win by catching 50 passes for 628 yards and two TDs. He now has 33 catches for 486 yards – both the highest number on the team – and four TDs this season for the Cardinals.

"Being from right here and being a team captain today, it was nice to see Cope scored today," U of L coach Charlie Strong said.

It made for a nice homecoming.

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