Keith Speer

JuCo LB J.B. Copeland 'Loves' UNC

The JuCo linebacker made his first visit to UNC over the weekend.

J.B. Copeland officially visited North Carolina over the weekend, which provided the JuCo linebacker his first look at the school.

“I love it there,” the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder from Navarro (Texas) College said. “There’s not one bad thing I can say about the place. 

“I’m still committed and they said I’m accepted in and I’m in the school. All I have to do is the application process this week – I have to write a couple essays and whatnot. They said that should go over well. And then I’ll sign on Wednesday.”

Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 7 a.m. CST is the beginning of the Junior College Signing Period. 

“I still have to get my official transcripts from Navarro, but [UNC] has already checked all my grades from my finals and it all went through,” Copeland said. “I’m on an unofficial transcript.”

UNC sent Copeland home with his Letter-of-Intent and scholarship paperwork in a sealed envelope. 

“I can’t open it until Wednesday, so I guess it’s like an early Christmas gift,” Copeland said.

If everything goes as planned, Copeland says he’ll enroll at UNC in January. His report date is the ninth.

On Friday, Copeland and his father landed at RDU Airport in time to have lunch with John Papuchis, UNC’s linebackers coach. The meal was followed by a campus tour.

“They showed me around and showed me where I’d be staying,” Copeland said.

Saturday was significantly more hectic. Copeland sat in on several defensive meetings and watched that morning’s practice. Afterwards, he had several academic meetings where the application process was discussed. That evening, he met with Larry Fedora for an hour.

“We just talked about his life and where he’s from,” Copeland said. “He wanted to get to know me a little bit more. I talked to him about where I’ve been, why I left New Mexico State, and what I’m doing at Navarro and how that’s been. He told me about his family, his brothers, and his dad, so I felt like I got to know him a little bit more. 

“There was a little bit of football talk. He talked about what he thinks is important and what he expects from me.”

Copeland played high school ball at Southlake (Texas) Carroll. Three games into his senior season, he tore his ACL, which scared most colleges away. New Mexico State was the only school that honored its offer and thus he signed with the Aggies. After starting his true freshman year, he left NMSU.

“I felt like I could help a better program – a program that wants to win and has the same mindset as me,” Copeland said. “So about a year ago, I decided to leave and go to Navarro College, play a year and see if I could get a better opportunity.”

For Navarro this season, Copeland made 116 tackles, five sacks, and forced a fumble.

Fellow Texan Nathan Elliott hosted Copeland throughout his UNC official visit. The two primarily hung out Friday and Saturday nights.

“He’s an awesome guy and was a great host,” Copeland said. “We both played Texas high school football, so that was a great host to have. He loves it up there. He was just telling me how it’s a little bit different from Texas, but I need to get up there and get acclimated to it.

“But, I don’t think I need to get acclimated to anything from where I’ve been this past year. From Navarro to where I was this weekend, it was heaven. I’m looking forward to it a lot.”

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