LAGRANGE, Ga. — Troup defensive lineman J.C. Copeland showed up to school Wednesday wearing a Tennessee hat, but it wasn’t long before his secret — along with a different hat — was out of the bag.
Copeland dropped a long-time commitment to the Volunteers at Wednesday morning’s national signing day ceremony, instead choosing to sign with LSU.
He was one of six Troup players to sign with colleges, including five headed to FBS schools.
Even teammate and fellow LSU recruit Brandon Worle did not know about the switch until Copeland pulled out a custom-made LSU hat with his name and jersey number, 44, embroidered on it.
“I was kind of surprised,” Worle, a rivals.com three-star fullback, said of Copeland’s decision. “It’s kind of like a dream because I didn’t know. He’s been talking about Tennessee all week. I guess he’s just been messing with me.”
The truth is, it had been less than 24 hours since Copeland changed his mind, and only a few coaches and family members knew about it.
Miles had recently visited Worle at Troup and while there he invited Copeland for a visit, which the rivals.com four-star recruit took last weekend. When that didn’t budge him from his commitment to Tennessee, Miles made one last phone call on Tuesday.
“The head coach called me back and said, ‘J.C., I really want you to rethink your opinion,’” Copeland said. “I said all right, I’ll rethink it. ‘Really,’ he said, ‘we need you up here.’”
Worle and the rest of Troup’s signees stuck with their commitments Wednesday. Corner back Cadarious Sanders signed with South Carolina; defensive back Vondree Jackson singed with South Alabama; athlete Jacorius Cotton signed with Southern Miss; and defensive back Juquante Holloway signed with Valdosta State.
It was the final signing class for former Troup coach Bubba Jeter, who stepped down in December after 24 years on the staff, including six seasons over two separate stints as head coach.
“I’ve been privileged to coach them,” Jeter said of the 2010 class. “I love seeing my football players being able to go on and continue playing and continue their educations.”