January 25, 2012
Copeland retires from Argos, joins Ticats as coach
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The day will arrive when Jeremaine Copeland gets enshrined in the CFL’s Hall of Fame, a fitting reward for a career that took more twists and turns than touchdowns and big-play receptions.
From go-to slot receiver, to a possession receiver during his final years as an Argo, Copeland would announce his retirement on Wednesday, only to resurface an hour later as a member of Hamilton’s revamped coaching staff.
It’s a move that may have taken some by surprise, but it’s a move that makes too much sense, an opportunity the cerebral Copeland simply could not resist.
In Hamilton, where he’ll oversee the Ticats’ emerging receiving group as its positional coach, Copeland is reunited with quarterback Henry Burris and head coach George Cortez, two individuals whose three-down football roots involve Calgary, one of the stops Copeland made during his 11-year career.
“It has been a great run and a lot of fun for me but I believe it’s time to move on in my life,” Copeland, who turns 35 next month, said in a statement.
“I would like to say thanks to all of my teammates that I played with and especially the two quarterbacks I played most of my career with — AC (Anthony Calvillo) and Hank (Henry Burris) — who helped make my career what it was. Last but not least, I want to thank my receiving corps, who are all great groups of guys that made it fun to play the game of football.”
In Montreal with Calvillo leading the way, Copeland would post a career-high season in 2003 when he hauled in 99 passes for 1,757 yards and 14 touchdowns.
In Calgary with Burris spearheading the offence, Copeland had three 1,000-yard seasons.
As an Argo, though, Copeland never had the luxury of a legitimate signal caller, first with Cleo Lemon trying to learn the ropes and ending with Steven Jyles, who never had any training camp under his belt.
In Double Blue, Copeland had a total of 91 receptions and three touchdowns, including none in his final campaign.
“He’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever been around,’’ Argos GM Jim Barker, who brought Copeland from Calgary two years ago, said from his off-season home in Arizona.
“He sees the receiver position from the eyes of a quarterback, which made him so invaluable.”
At Tennessee, Copeland played with Peyton Manning and served as a backup to the NFL superstar.
Despite his advanced years and diminished speed, Copeland was the Argos’ best route runner and the team’s most sure-handed pass catcher.
In his absence, the Argos are likely to rely more on Sammy Tranks and Maurice Mann, whom the team acquired late in the season from Hamilton.
With the Ticats, Copeland now gets a chance to impart his wisdom on the likes of Chris Williams, the CFL’s rookie of the year, and Bakari Grant, an imposing presence who is just beginning to scratch the surface.