As this Q with Max Copeland hits the Web, the former Missouri left guard-turned-fullback is hopped up on an energy drink, blaring Metallica as he speeds toward his family’s Billings, Mont., home.
That’s where Copeland will spend the weekend as the NFL Draft unfolds more than 2,000 miles.
It’s a long shot Copeland will get drafted despite starting on the Tigers’ offensive line the last two seasons. He is, after all, converting from an interior lineman to fullback.
Copeland dropped more than 50 pounds before Missouri’s Pro Day as part of his transformation.
Now, his workout regimen and diet have normalized and he’s ready for a shot in the NFL.
“It was pretty helter-skelter, because that was at the tail end of about 10 weeks abstinence from carbohydrates,” Copeland said of surprisingly slim the Pro Day physique. “It’s a wonder that my nervous system was still firing. I’m up to about 265, 266 right now.”
Of course, that’s not to say Copeland has eased up during the last six weeks, working out with linebacker Andrew Wilson at the Tigers’ training facility.
“Someone pukes, on average, once a day,” Copeland said.
Before heading back to Montana, Copeland took a few minutes to discuss his preparation for the NFL Draft with The Star:
Q: Have you talked to any teams ahead of the NFL Draft?
“Yeah, man, I’ve actually gotten a few calls. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say who’s called me, but I have had a few calls in the last week asking me draft-day information and football stuff. That’s been really exciting.”
Q: Have you done any research on your own about teams that use a fullback or might need a fullback?
“Yeah, that’s something me and my agent have been doing, so we’ll be prepared to pick out what team might be the best fit, which ones might be interested and which teams require a fullback that can put their hand in the dirt and move guys around.”
Q: What prompted moving to fullback in the first place? Had you considered staying at guard and trying to make a team that way?
“That’s the million-dollar question isn’t it? Every four or five years, I transform. I do something different. I don’t sit still very well. The thing is, I like reinventing myself. It’s a good process. It’s founded under the principle as soon as you belong, it’s time to disappear. I did consider going into the league as an offensive lineman, but it didn’t excite me. It didn’t feel witsy enough. I wanted it to give me some iron butterflies in my stomach. It just didn’t feel right.
“I went to bed one night, and I had this dream that I was playing fullback. It was vague, but I remember playing fullback and having a (darn) good time. It was fun. When I woke up, I said, ‘This is what I’m going to do. I’m just going to do this.’ I told my mom (Joanne), because she’s always been good counsel. She can read things and feel the energy and see if it’s right. She kind of gets me. And I told her and she said, ‘That’s right. This is what you need to do, Max. This is your next calling.’ It felt right, so it was pretty vintage Max, because that’s what I do. I do crazy things that everyone scoffs at.”
Q: Where’s your confidence that you’ll get a shot at going to an NFL camp?
“I really do feel like I’ll get a chance, but I don’t like to dwell on that. The things that have made me good as a football player the last two years was being totally focused on the present. That’s important, focusing on what I can control. I’m not going to focus on what’s happening tomorrow, because I’ve got stuff I’ve got to do today. I’ve got work to get done today, because if that stuff doesn’t get done then I can’t do the work I need to get done the next day.
“My faith’s strong about me getting an opportunity, though. That’s all that I need. I just need a helmet and a patch of grass to run around on, man. That’s all I’m asking, and I’m confident that teams are going to recognize what kind of guy I am and that they’ll give me this opportunity to show what I can do. One ring of the phone can send your life in a completely different direction than you anticipated, but that’s exciting. It’s also scary, but mostly it’s really fun.”
Q: Do you have special teams skills that might be attractive to an NFL team? Perhaps some secret long-snapping ability?
“Not long-snapping, but I can play on special teams. Just give me a helmet and I’ll do what I’ve got to do. I have experience on PAT and anything I’m asked to do, I’ll do 1,000 miles an hour. That’s something I would take just as seriously as playing fullback is special teams — whatever I’ve got to do to help a squad and get myself noticed, I’ll do.”
Q: What’s your sales pitch to an NFL team? Why should someone take a chance on Max Copeland?
“Football, especially in our generation, there’s a scientification of how to create the ideal athlete with all these numbers. To me, that’s only half the battle, because it’s not just science, it’s an art form. Football is still a warrior’s game. You can just take one look at me and know that, when stuff gets heavy, I want to draw blood. I’ll go to war. When I put my hand in the dirt, I won’t lose and that’s what the game ultimately is about. I’m a warrior, dude, and that’s what it’s about — dudes that are warriors putting helmets on and crashing into each other. I think I was built for this game.
Q: You’re a pretty smart guy and there’s all the talk about concussions and the physical toll football takes on players, so why put yourself through this understanding those risks?
“Hell, why not, man? I don’t want to live forever. I don’t care, man. That’s what rock-and-roll is all about. I’ll roll the dice on my health. It’s just life. I don’t want to live forever.”
Q: Obviously, you’ve been working out a lot with Andrew Wilson, but have you considered the possibility you might meet him in a hole some Sunday for a little Mizzou-on-Mizzou violence?
“Oh, hell yeah. I’ve got dreams about it, too. We’re probably going to talk about it when we’re old men — about who did better against who.”
Q: Are you trying to keep your hopes for this weekend tempered or guard against nervousness?
Copeland: “I’m just doing what I know how to do, so for those three days (of the NFL Draft) I’m probably just going to work out. That’s all I know how to do. I’ll stick by the phone and have faith that my hard work will be rewarded. Good things happen to those guys that work as hard as they can all the time. Good things end up happening one way or another, and I’m all-in on this. This isn’t some funny thing I decided to do. All my chips are on the table and I’m not making any backup plans. This is what I’m supposed to do, and I’m going to do it 100 miles an hour.”