Player Spotlight, The Punisher

Where Are They Now: JC Copeland

I was fortunate enough to write an article on JC several years ago for an internship and it’s amazing to have the opportunity to connect with him.

The former Troup High School star and LSU running back is right back where it all started, on the football field of his hometown. I was able to catch JC for a few minutes to interview him and see what he’s been up to since his college days and a brief stint in the NFL. 

I’ve never been to LaGrange, Georgia, I may never go there, but that’s where JC Copeland calls home and where his athletic career took off. He came out of Troup County High School as a 4-star recruit spending the majority of his time on defense. If there was a guy in high school who other running backs feared, it was JC. He was ranked the No. 25 prospect in Georgia, the No. 17 defensive end in the country, a member of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Top 50 and Super Southeast 120, a SuperPrep All-American, he had 27 sacks his senior year of high school, and is one of the nicest guys you could meet/speak with.

After having offers from Auburn, Maryland, Ole Miss, South Carolina among others, he ended up committing to LSU where he transitioned to a running back/fullback. It wasn’t his numbers that popped out at you, it was how he blocked, lead, and motivated others. A fullback is no easy feat, you’re a bruiser who doesn’t get all the glory but puts in all the work. It takes a special kind of person to take on that role, a role that was perfect for JC.

JC running onto the field with the team before a game at Troup High School

When I asked JC if he was ever starstruck with the talent that was on his LSU roster, Kwon Alexander, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Jeremy Hill, his now best-friend Kadron Boone, he replied in a very simple answer. “No, it’s what we expected. It was routine to make one-handed catches all the time. Nobody was ever like woooow and stood there watching. It was, alright, next play. It was such a high-level that it was expected that those plays would be made. Compete every day in practice.” Many of his former teammates are now on an NFL roster or still involved with the game they all loved so much as kids; JC is no exception to that list.

Currently coaching for the Troup Tigers, JC is right at home. He’s got his running backs and the team is headed to the fourth round of the state playoffs where they’ll take on Blessed Trinity High School Friday, November 30. I asked JC if he motivates his players the same way he used to motivate himself, or if he goes about it in a different way. “I’d say it’s a mixture of both. I know something I did back in high school that was wrong, when I see someone do it wrong now, I give them advice. Now I ask them, what do you have in front of you, how are they gonna block for you, who’s coming off of the edge. I break it down with an NFL approach, but I make it simple enough so they can understand it. How I did it in college, that’s what I want them to do. I learned from the best at LSU. I love LSU.” 

JC on the sidelines clapping for his team

He’s also a co-teacher at Troup High and is enrolled to get his masters in teaching. “My old teachers and current teachers welcomed me back with open arms.” Even though teaching is more of a backup plan for his long-term goals, he feels honored that students and others in the community look up to him as a role model. “There aren’t a lot of black role models in school so it’s great that I’m here kind of filling that role. “The kids who have discipline problems know better than to mess with me, so that’s nice.”

He aims to move up through the ranks and become a collegiate coach. “I want to be a grad-assistant, work my way up through the ranks. I want to grind through it and be more appreciative of it in the end. That’s the way I want to go.” I did have to ask if he thought his playing days were behind him and got an answer I wasn’t quite expecting. “Nah, I put a beating on my body in college. I had to take pain pills, I fractured my hip a couple years ago and just to be able to wake up every morning and put my feet on the ground and nothing aches or hurts is great.” 

When he looks back on his college career, he does wish that things were different. He wishes he was able to take more time to appreciate the things that were happening around him. “During the time when I played, it went so fast. I had some incredible opportunities to play the game at such a high level. To be a part of an undefeated regular season, play with Jeremy Hill, Tyrann Mathieu, to see guys that came in with me and see where they’re at now. Me and Eric Reid used to be roommates. I wish I took more advantage when I was there.”

JC pumping up the team before a game

When he’s not studying plays or studying for exams, he’s out in the woods in his tree stand. It’s a comfortable place for him that he absolutely loves. He even started his own YouTube channel, Big Zaddy Huntas. There aren’t many videos on the channel, but for good reason. With all of the high school teams success, he hasn’t had much time to be in the woods. “Once the football season is over and break is here I’ll be putting more videos out. So stay tuned!”

I would be remiss if I didn’t briefly mention his beard game. To many people, a beard is their baby, and to others, it’s just there. To JC, it’s his baby. “The only person that touches my hair is my barber. Nobody can touch my hair besides him. Maintaining it, I gotta take care of it. I shampoo it, condition it, pick it, add my beard oils. You can’t let it get matted, it’ll look scary at that point.

To see Troup High School take on Linden Trinity in the state playoffs, tune in to Georgia Public Broadcasting to see the live stream.

A few other questions I was able to ask:

Q: The team is in the fourth round of the state playoffs, how does this compare to playing? Is it a similar feeling, more exciting now knowing that you have such an influence?
A: I really love playing football. It’s one of my biggest hobbies, but to be able to give them the experience, the opportunity in life. It’s more than rewarding and it’s hard to explain. It’s just a great feeling.

Q: If you could be on any team in any sport, what team would it be and why?
A: The Jaguars. They need some guys to show them how and to hone what they’ve got to do to be successful. Keep their head on straight and win some football games.

Q: What’s a gift that you’d like to get this year and what’s one that you’d like to give?
A: I’m gonna get my players *******(He told me but I don’t want to spoil it). But the gift I’d like is another GoPro for my videos.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: Tune into the game Friday night, 7:30

YouTube: Big Zaddy Huntas

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