As 6-5, 250 lbs. tight ends go, California prep star Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick ranks as one of the best in the entire country. He'd tell you he's not a deep threat, but he can pretty much everything else. "I like my ability in the middle of the field, at the line, running routes. I like to think that I can do whatever a team needs me to do," he said.
Nebraska is recruiting him as a tight end, a position which is running thin on depth as to what is on the roster, because they couldn't manage to land their pass-catching threat this last recruiting period. Nebraska Assistant Offensive Line Coach and Tight Ends Coach, John Garrison has talked to Cope-Fitzpatrick twice, and the California native says what he can do is what they say they want. "I know they are changing things quite a bit in their offense. Coach Garrison told me that there is going to be more of an attacking style and they want to use the tight end a lot more," he said. "I saw them last year. I actually saw both times they played Washington. Coach Garrison told me the offense should be a lot different than that."
Along with Nebraska, seven other schools have thrown their hat into the ring with offers. Washington, Washington State, Cal, Colorado, Oregon State and UCLA have all offered. And his most recent one came from Utah. It's a lot of attention, and Jalen said that ideally, he would love to go visit all these places before the season begins. But the soaring traveling expenses make that less than ideal for most people around the country. "Yeah, it's just not going to be possible to do that. I'd love to, but I'm going to have to wait for my official visits to go see some of these places," he said.
Two unofficial visits that he probably will make very soon is one to a local high school to watch the Cal Bears practice during the Spring. Due to renovations to their current digs, the Cal Bears are taking their practices on the road, and the high school they are going to isn't too far from where Cope-Fitzpatrick is. The second trip could be up to see Washington.
As for those official visits, five of which he is allowed to take after the beginning of his senior year, everyone is a candidate, but in regard to Nebraska, Cope-Fitzpatrick says he has liked everything he's heard about them thus far. "It's the whole image of that program. It has great tradition and everything centers around football in that state," Jalen said of the Huskers. "I really like Coach Garrison, too, because he's a nice guy, someone who will tell you right away when you do something wrong, but he doesn't seem like he's one of those in-your-face-all-the-time types."
An early decision is obviously out for Cope-Fitzpatrick as he plans on taking the process as long as it needs to take. And he would like to dispel a notion that he believes is out there, because of where he lives. "Everything thinks because I am a California guy, I'm not going to leave the state or I won't think about getting away from the coast. That's not true at all," he said. "I have only been to the east coast once, I was in Alabama once...but that's it.
"What I am looking for has nothing to do with where it's at or the weather. If one place fits me and feels right, that's where I'll go."
Other schools showing interest as of late, according to Cope-Fitzpatrick, are USC and Florida. Jalen is also a standout basketball player, but it would appear that football is the sport he'll choose at the next level.