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Returning Player Refresher: Marquise Copeland

Copeland is one of the best defenders to return for UC in 2017.

NCAA Football: East Carolina at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Marquise Copeland was a three-star recruit from Cleveland, so he was a very nice addition to the 2015 recruiting class for the Cincinnati Bearcats. He was an in-state prospect and one with a nice collection of potential. In 2017, he will be competing for a regular rotation spot on the defensive line and for a chance to make good on that potential.

To be fair to the 6’3”, 290-pound junior, he has already begun to do that, as he played extremely well on the edge for the Bearcats in 2016. After playing sparingly as a freshman, Copeland became a regular structure at defensive end in 2016 and it was because he produced at a relatively high level compared to some of his counterparts. He finished with the fourth most tackles on the team (59), providing a helping hand when it came to bringing ball carriers down either at the line or just a few yards beyond it.

However, he wasn’t just relegated to your garden variety tackles. Copeland was also one of the better players on the team at creating negative plays for opposing offenses, racking up 4.5 tackles for loss and a sack. While not standout numbers on a national scale, that was excellent work in comparison to the rest of the roster. His TFL total tied for sixth on the team and is the third most of any returning player this year.

He had at least five tackles in eight of 12 games last season, including a personal best of eight against Temple and Tulsa. His best game of the season was probably against Miami-Ohio when he registered two tackles for loss and his lone sack of the campaign.

In addition to the pressure and tackling, Copeland hit hard and effectively, forcing two fumbles and he also made an impact in the passing game beyond rushing the quarterback, throwing his hands up for a pass defended.

As he enters his junior year, Copeland should be on the fast track for a starting role. He’s proven he can produce and he has the experience needed to be relied upon, with 22 games played under his belt in his first two years.