Bradley Central QB Cole Copeland commits to Mocs

Bradley Central quarterback Cole Copeland breaks free from a Riverdale defender last season. On Sunday, Copeland became the fifth player to commit to UTC for its 2017 recruiting class.
photo Cole Copeland

Cole Copeland has pretty much bet on himself during his high school career.

With the end of his time as a prep athlete near, he won.

On Sunday, the Bradley Central quarterback became the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's fifth commitment for its 2017 recruiting class. Although commitments are nonbinding, the 6-foot-4, 200-pounder said he is "set on UTC," canceling visits to Middle Tennessee State and Alabama.

"It just felt right," Copeland said Sunday. "I don't have to stress anymore throughout the season. The recruitment game is stressful, but UTC is the right fit for me and my family. The coaches are amazing and it's close to home, so my family won't have such a hassle going to games."

Copeland's brother Bryce will be a senior basketball player at Lee University this school year, while his sister Brooke is entering her junior basketball season for the University of Florida.

Athletics have long been important in Copeland's family. His uncle Chad was a basketball standout at UTC and was named co-player of the year for the Southern Conference in 1994. Copeland's father Brian and uncle Brent were standout football and basketball players at Bradley Central, while his mother Kim played basketball at East Ridge and Cleveland.

Copeland has passed for 5,105 yards and 44 touchdowns in his high school career, including 2,489 yards and 26 scores as a junior. A dual threat, he also ran for 904 yards and 12 more scores and was a Class 6A Mr. Football semifinalist as the Bears finished 7-4 in Tennessee's highest classification last year.

He will begin this season with 1,864 yards rushing and 26 scores for his career, which is already more than his brother Bryce. In passing yardage, he needs 1,330 yards to eclipse his brother.

He is also a basketball standout, averaging 20.9 points and 11.6 rebounds for the Bears last season.

But in contrast to many prep athletes with college scholarship prospects, Copeland chose not to specialize in a single sport during high school, including in the summer. He was always playing something, but he chose not to attend many of the exposure camps that aid in recruiting.

Despite the risk of not being noticed, he committed to being a well-rounded athlete for the past three years.

"Football has always been my number one sport," Copeland said. "I just want to focus on that moving forward. Sometimes it's hard playing multiple sports. You don't have time to focus and other guys have the advantage, but you have to do what makes you happy."

Bradley Central football coach Damon Floyd, who played safety at UTC from 1997 to 2000, said the Mocs are "getting a steal."

"I think a lot about UTC and love to see players go there," Floyd said. "He wanted to stay close to home, and UTC has one of the top teams in the nation, so I think what they run is a good fit.

"He's a winner. He's improved on his knowledge of the game - he's always had ability - but you can't beat experience."

Contact Gene Henley at Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.