Brandon Copeland is heading to the Motor City.
Following a standout performance at the NFL Veteran Combine in Arizona, the former star Penn football defensive end signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Lions late last week. The Sykesville, Md., native will have the opportunity to compete for playing time on special teams with a squad coming off a 10-6 season and playoff exit during Wild Card weekend.
A three-time first team All-Ivy selection during his career with the Quakers between 2009 and 2012, Copeland has spent time on practice squads for the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans since graduating from Penn in 2013. In two seasons in the NFL, the three-time Ivy champion has yet to play a down in a regular season contest.
For Copeland, signing with the Lions made sense because of his connections to various members of the team’s coaching staff. Head coach Jim Caldwell is the Ravens’ former offensive coordinator, while defensive coordinator Teryl Austin coached Baltimore’s secondary while Copeland spent time with the 2013 Super Bowl champions.
“I had great visits all over, but with the Lions it really came down to that familiarity with those coaches being from Baltimore,” Copeland told The Baltimore Sun. “I had a great feeling when I left there. I know there are opportunities everywhere, but their Ravens roots gave me a great feeling.
“I’m looking forward to getting started.”
After running the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds at the Veteran Combine, as well as posting a 37-inch vertical leap and a 10-foot-7 broad jump in training leading up to the event, Copeland visited with five teams, including the Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals. He also drew interest from the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams, among others.
“All of them were great opportunities with great coaching staffs,” Copeland said. “I literally couldn’t have gone wrong. [But] I’m happy I made the decision I made to go to Detroit.”
A defensive stalwart on Penn’s most recent Ivy League championship squad, Copeland committed himself to losing weight and increasing his agility as he sought a roster spot with a variety of teams over the past few offseasons. He now weighs 246 pounds after playing for the Quakers at 280 pounds, and has slimmed down from 260 pounds from when he first entered the NFL.
“The fire in me is burning even brighter now. I’m more hungry than I’ve ever been. I got the second chance. It’s like life after death. I want to make sure I do everything in my power to make it right this time.”Comments powered by Disqus
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