FAYETTEVILLE — Like a lot of of prospects visiting Arkansas for the first time, junior college defensive lineman Kemari Copeland didn’t have high expectations, but he left with a much different tone.
“The visit went well,” Copeland said. “It really exceeded my expectations first coming here. It’s not what I expected at all coming from Arkansas. First coming here, I thought it was going to be like tumble weeds everywhere you went. But coming here it exceeded my expectations.
“There’s a lot of businesses, a lot of cool things around here, so I really like what I’ve seen. “
Copeland, 6-3 and 285 pounds, of Iowa Western Community College, released a top eight of Arkansas, Arizona State, Kansas, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Central Florida, North Carolina State and Tennessee on Nov. 2. He recently made an official visit to see the Vols.
He went into detail on why Arkansas exceeded his expectations.
“First was the area. I did not expect all these stores, the community,” Copeland said. “Everything around here, it just feels like a nice home city and a nice place to live. When you think of Arkansas you think it’s one of the states, like, what’s around here? You really don’t know, but coming down here, if anything, you have to check it out because it’s really not what you expect.
“Then second I would say the facilities. The facilities are crazy top notch. Compared to other schools some things in the facilities were way better than other facilities I’ve seen. And lastly, I’ll say the genuineness of the coaching staff. The coaching staff is real genuine and you can feel it when you first enter the building. Those are three things that really stood out to me.”
On3.com rates him a 3-star recruit, the No. 3 defensive lineman and No. 18 overall junior college prospect in the nation in the 2024 class.
He has 36 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and 1 recovered fumble in 11 games for the Reivers this season.
He and Arkansas defensive line coach Deke Adams watched film of the Razorbacks’ scheme Sunday morning. Copeland said he felt comfortable with Adams right off the bat.
"Coach Adams, real genuine dude,” Copeland said. “I could tell that from the first phone call. I really enjoyed my conversations with the whole coaching staff. I just can’t harp [enough] on the genuineness. So genuine. It’s really enjoyable being down here.”
He played at Army before announcing he was entering the NCAA transfer portal last Dec. 22.
He starred at Kellam High School in Virginia Beach, Va., and had offers from Marshall and Navy prior to signing with Army in 2021.
Copeland gave a rundown on where the Razorbacks stood with him.
“[The trip] definitely heightened it a lot. It definitely heightened it a lot,” Copeland said. “For me, I was going to make my decision based off of the schools I’ve seen and just the feel of it, and being here it feels real genuine. This will definitely do something to my recruitment. Definitely got to reorganize the schools and stuff. But I really enjoyed it here.”
If Iowa Western wins next weekend’s playoff game against Kilgore College, the Reivers will play for the national championship in Little Rock on Dec. 13.
Copeland talked about visits in December.
“Guaranteed, I’ll go to Virginia Tech December 15, but if we don’t make the championship game I’ll try to get to NC State, but we’ll see how that all unfolds,” Copeland said.
He has two years of eligibility remaining and plans to enroll at his next school in January.