Over the past season, Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick (Rocklin, Calif./Whitney) solidified his status among the top tight ends in the country. The USC commitment checks in as the No. 2 ranked player at the position in the ESPNU 150 and he was selected to participate in last week's Under Armour All-America Game. Several months after taking part in The Opening, Cope-Fitzpatrick was again surrounded by many of the top recruits in the country.
"It was great being around people like you -- other highly-touted recruits," Cope-Fitzpatrick said of the experience. "But guys are so different, being from all different parts of the country. After that first day though, everyone started to bond and we started feeling almost like a real team. We had each other's backs. I really enjoyed going through this experience with all of them."
Through Cope-Fitzpatrick's squad came out on the losing end, he authored one of the highlights of the night, grabbing a touchdown pass in the corner of the endzone.
"I was looking for it and expected the ball in front," Cope-Fitzpatrick said. "I saw it was behind me, so I had to adjust and make a catch. Getting my first touchdown on television on ESPN was pretty cool."
After the play, Cope-Fitzpatrick flashed a victory sign and gave a shout out to his mother, who was watching from the stands.
"I'm sure all her friends texted her right after that," he said. "She was definitely happy. Now I can't wait to get home to watch the game."
While many recruits take the opportunity of being surrounded by top athletes to jump into their recruiting pitch for why an uncommitted player should commit to a certain school, Cope-Fitzpatrick took a different approach, and has done so during the entire process.
"I like to pick people's brains to see what they look for in a school, because maybe there's something I haven't paid attention to," Cope-Fitzpatrick said. "It's really funny to hear when everyone has an argument about why their school is the best."
But the big tight end doesn't always stay silent. He said that is asked about USC, he isn't shy to let people know why he committed.
"I bring up the history of it, and their consistency with winning," he said. "What I found when USC was recruiting me is that the school almost speaks for itself. They don't have to do a lot of talking. Even on a so-called down year, they go 8-5. For a lot of schools, that's a really good year. Plus it's in Los Angeles and SoCal. Nobody can really compete with that."
As luck would have it, Cope-Fitzpatrick was assigned a room with offensive tackle Andrus Peat (Tempe, Ariz./Corona Del Sol). The lineman spent the week hearing from Stanford linebacker commit Noor Davis about the Cardinal, as well as his older brother, Todd Peat Jr. about Nebraska.
"He was my roommate, so it was going to come up," Cope-Fitzpatrick said of Peat and recruiting. "I told him he was going to be hearing all different stuff from all different players, but he has to do what he thinks is right. I said, 'I'm not going to tell you to come to USC, but if you want to come, we're going to do some big things."
The recruiting process isn't quite over for Cope-Fitzpatrick. He officially visited UCLA this weekend, will trip to Colorado the following week and will finish his official visits by checking out USC on Jan. 20.