J.B. Copeland announced on Twitter on Thursday morning that he had committed to North Carolina moments after speaking with UNC assistant coach John "J.P." Papuchis, though one hurdle remains before making it official.
"They offered me two or three days ago officially and I have an official visit Dec. 11," said the 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker at Navarro College. "And Coach J.P. is going to come up to Navarro on Monday to talk to me and we'll get some of that stuff figured out. And then I'll take my visit on the 11th. But I wanted to go ahead and commit out of how great of an opportunity this is, how great the school is -- it doesn't really get much better than that.
"I just talked to Coach J.P. and he knows I'm committed," Copeland said. "I haven't really talked to Coach (Larry) Fedora much. (Contact) has really been between me and Coach J.P."
Copeland, who plans to enroll at UNC in January, still needs to clear UNC admissions before finalizing his commitment, according to sources close to the situation.
He played his high school football at Southlake (Texas) Carroll, suffering a season-ending ACL injury early in his senior season, and then enrolled at New Mexico State, before opting for the JuCo route before completing his first year at NMSU.
Copeland has two years of college playing eligibility (three years total) remaining.
"He was real excited," Copeland said of Papuchis. "He said that they're bringing me in for a reason -- that's to play. And he wants me to compete to start. They really need a veteran presence at linebacker and that's what they're going to be missing next year... He was excited about it and I'm as excited about it, too."
Copeland totaled 116 tackles, five sacks and forced a fumble to earn First Team All-Conference (SWJCFC) honors at the Texas junior college this season.
"Copeland has good size and has the definitive look of what you envision in a linebacker prospect," said Scout regional expert Greg Powers. "He is a well-rounded player as he can do a bit of it all. He has great closing speed and will play with a high effort and chase plays down. When he arrives at the point of contact he delivers a good pop. Rated as an outside linebacker, but with his sideline-to-sideline speed he could play inside backer as well."