Florida head coach Dan Mullen, left, talks with wide receivers Kadarius Toney (1) and Jacob Copeland (15) during a timeout in the first half of an NCAA college football game against South Carolina, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux, Pool)

Copeland Embracing Leadership Role, New Number

There’s a new WR1 in the Swamp. He’s a familiar face, but he’s in a new role. He’s wide receiver Jacob Copeland, and he’s ready to embrace his new role as one of the leaders on the Gator football team.

Head coach Dan Mullen even went the extra mile to establish Copeland’s leadership role with a number change. That number is one.

Up until this year, that number had belonged to Kadarius Toney, who was selected by the New York Giants 20th overall in the most recent NFL Draft. Think of it as the passing of the torch from one top wide receiver to another. Copeland said he spoke with Mullen about the responsibilities that come with getting the number one. It even called for a mindset change.

Now, what exactly changed? Copeland said much of it was leading the younger members of the receiving corps and keeping them focused.

New Band of Leaders

The faces of the 2019 and 2020 Florida Gators have gone pro. Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney, Van Jefferson, Josh Hammond, Trevon Grimes, etc. Their time at Florida is over, and the new leaders are emerging. Along with Copeland is the man who will be targeting him in the fall; quarterback Emory Jones.

Like Copeland, Jones has been waiting for his chance to step up and truly make his mark on the field. But they can’t do it alone. Others will be rising up to make their mark to help lead the Gators to another successful season under coach Mullen.

Besides Copeland on the receiving corps, the time for Justin Shorter, Trent Whittemore, Ja’Quavion Fraziars and others hopefully has come.  And at tight end, Florida will try to make up for hugh loss of first round choice Kyle Pitts with returning players like Kemore Gamble and Keon Zipperer.

This is the group that will hopefully be some of the offensive playmakers for the Gators when the season opens September 3.  With the same heart and soul as those before them, they look to push for greater heights.

About Harrison Smajovits

Harrison is a sports coordinator at ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF. He served as a beat writer for Florida Gators football for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He also contributes to WRUF's Gainesville Sports Center segments and makes appearances on the Clash on Harp on Sports. Harrison has been a content writer for WRUF since January 2019 as well.

Check Also

Mullen Speaks for First Time Since LSU Game, Will Split QB Time

On Wednesday, Gator football head coach Dan Mullen spoke to the press for the first …