Copeland looks more like a Navy fullback

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Sports,Campus Confidential,Kevin Dunleavy

Last spring Noah Copeland earned the fullback job at Navy despite lacking the prototypical size the Midshipmen prefer for between-the-tackles dives. Four months later, however, Copeland looks more the part.

Saturday during Navy’s Fan Fest / Media Day, Copeland said he weighed 215 pounds, up 15 from the spring, and 20-25 from what he weighed when Navy beat Army in the season finale last December.

“I’ve been eating a lot, working out a lot,” Copeland, a sophomore, said. “I knew I needed to gain some weight. I knew I couldn’t play fullback at 195.”

Navy has thrived in the past with fullbacks such as Kyle Eckel (5-11, 240), Eric Kettani (6-1, 243) and Adam Ballard (6-1, 236). In 2007, Navy had the perfect workhorse duo for its triple option offense, running Kettani and Ballard in tandem. They combined for 1,545 yards on 293 carries.

In recent years, smaller versions such as Alex Teich (6-0, 217) and Vince Murray (6-1, 217) have also been effective. But Copeland in the latter category.

He carried just twice last fall, but emerged in the spring, showing a burst off the snap, quickness on cuts, and a feel for finding holes and finishing runs. He also demonstrated sure hands as a receiver.

After he bolted for 87 yards on 10 touches in the Blue-Gold spring game, head coach Ken Niumatalolo compared Copeland to a contestant he had seen on the TV show American Idol, a petite young woman whose full, rich voice didn’t match her body.

Such comparisons are becoming less appropriate in the case of Copeland.

“He gained some good weight. He still looks quick,” offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper said. “He had to put some weight on to be able to take the punishment through the whole season. He might be a bell cow. He might be a kid who can go in there and take the punishment. We have to be smart during the season and keep an eye on that.”

Kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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