A National Champion’s 50th Birthday
The Crimson Tide community says, “Happy Birthday” to Alabama native and member of the 1992 National Championship team, John Copeland!
Born in Lanett, Alabama on September 20, 1970, John Anthony Copeland actually grew up as a fan of the Auburn Tigers. In fact, it wasn’t until his high school days with the Valley High Rams that Copeland even considered choosing to play college ball in Tuscaloosa. According to Copeland’s own account, Auburn, with head coach Pat Dye at the time, never recruited the defensive end as well as the recruiting staff in Tuscaloosa.
However, John Copeland’s football career didn’t immediately go through Tuscaloosa. His first two college seasons were spent in Raymond, Mississippi at Hinds Community College. He led all junior college defenders in the state in sacks while working on his grades in eastern Mississippi.
On the recruiting experience to the Crimson Tide, Copeland stated, “I took some trips to the other schools, but nothing else felt like Alabama.”
Copeland’s early career with the Crimson Tide was plagued with injuries. However, after deciding to stay at the Capstone, the young defensive star began to shine. In 1992, John Copeland was named as a consensus All-American and went on to help the Tide win their first National Championship since the Bryant-era in the 1970s.
After his senior season and the 1992 National Championship, Copeland took his career to the next level. The Cincinnati Bengals selected John Copeland with the fifth overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft.
Copeland spent his entire eight-season career with the Bengals, where he was named an annual starter and played a total of 107 games. As a professional, he cemented over 300 combined tackles, 24 sacks and eight forced fumbles.
After the NFL, John Copeland went from a defensive huddle to the coach’s room back in his home state of Alabama. Coach Copeland started working with the Tuscaloosa Academy Knights’ defense in 2007, eventually being named as the defensive coordinator. The summer also brought along a position for Copeland and he became a strength and conditioning coordinator for the Knights as well.
In 2019, Coach Copeland was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach for Tuscaloosa Academy. However, after a lone 8-4 season, Copeland was replaced just prior to the start of the 2020 season. He is currently working with the defensive staff at Northridge High School
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