The Trojans have a bevy of riches at the tight end position, with an emerging, team-oriented contributor Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick ready to help the cause this season. In the past decade alone David Ausberry, Jordan Cameron, Rhett Ellison, Anthony McCoy and Fred Davis are currently in the National Football League following successful careers in Southern California.
Currently in line behind the dynamic tandem of Randell Telfer and Xavier Grimble,Cope-Fitzpatrick has a diverse trail of footprints to follow before he gets his moment. Measuring in at 6’5″ and 245 pounds of lean muscle, the sophomore rising star is gaining the respect of his teammates on campus.
October 4, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Southern California Trojans tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick (88) goes in motion during the first quarter against the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
“He’s coming along,” Grimble said about his young teammate. “I’m very excited to see him play this year. He’s grown so much, and will be a great player.”
The sophomore is taking advantage of all the repetitions coming his way due to an accumulation of injuries during fall camp, even being called one of the most reliable and consistent players of Fall Camp according to head coach Lane Kiffin.
“You get to show what you are made of every day on the practice field,” Cope-Fitzpatrick said, adding for the future that, “as the season progresses I really feel ready–if need be–to go into the game.”
Known for his blocking abilities and surprisingly soft hands in the secondary, Cope-Fitzpatrick wants to build upon an early strike of success.
“We are just gonna continue to do what we are doing,” Cope-Fitzpatrick said about his positions performance.”We are really trying to work on the run game and pass protection, because its always great to run with the first and second string.”
Coming off a freshman campaign with two receptions totaling 12 yards, Cope-Fitzpatrick continues to work on his pass-catching ability in practice. “If you don’t use it, you loose it, so catching the ball is one of my favorite aspects of the game.”
Early on in Fall Camp, Cope-Fitzpatrick has played a fair deal of time with the first team while Telfer has been limited from practice. Grimble stands on the other side of the line making big plays of his own on streak patterns down the middle. Working alongside two of the best athletic prospects in the Pac-12 conference. “Hopefully, [the] two guys in front of me will do big things in the next level,” Cope-Fitzpatrick said.
With the work they have been doing since spring ball, Cope-Fitzpatrick feels his teammates will develop into a major centerpiece of the Trojan offense. “We can’t really throw the ball to ourselves, but I feel that as the year goes on we are going to game plan and hopefully we can be big threats down the middle.”
This, for a position that felt under appreciated last season, only earning 17-percent of receptions and far less touchdowns and targets. With an increased emphasis on running the football along with a critical play-action passing game, we can expect to see much more of these big-bodied targets this year.
In the midst of a crucial installation and development period for the offense, Cope Fitzpatrick recognizes that more work needs to be done before the start of the 2013-2014 season. “There are still a lot of things I need to polish this fall camp,” Cope-Fitzpatrick said. “I am pleased, but I am not satisfied.”
That attitude of always pushing for more is one the Trojans are really hoping to hone this season as they go about rectifying the glaring mistakes made in the last one.