Valdosta Daily Times

May 6, 2008

Blazers try to move on to next level

Chris Walsh

VALDOSTA – The 2008 NFL Draft came and went, and despite much speculation, no Blazers were chosen. But it didn’t take long for a trio of Valdosta State football players to be called up to the next level.

Cornerback Maurice Leggett, offensive lineman Gerald Davis, and quarterback Willie Copeland have all been invited to NFL rookie mini-camps.

Leggett has already signed with the team that invited him to their camp, the Kansas City Chiefs. The five-foot-eleven, 188 pound cornerback was a big addition to an aging Chiefs secondary.

Last year Leggett was named to the All-Gulf South Conference first team after totaling 46 tackles, five interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns.

He also tied the school record for passes broken up with 15 in 2006.

Willie Copeland, Valdosta State’s signal caller for the past two seasons, is now on his way to New York.

After a lot of talk about getting drafted in the late rounds, Copeland had to wait until a phone call from the Miami Dolphins following the draft.

His stint as a Dolphin was short-lived though, as he was let go following mini-camp. But his road to the NFL lives on this weekend as Copeland travels north for the New York Giants rookie min-camp.

The Giants were one of the first teams to contact Copeland, and even invited him to their facilities prior to the draft. He will be competing with veterans David Carr, Anthony Wright and Jared Lorenz and rookie Andre Woodson for a spot on the team.

As a senior, Copeland threw for 3,160 yards and 28 touchdowns with a 63.6 completion percentage.

Even the Canadian Football League has called for Copeland. The Edmonton Eskimos, who are celebrating their 60th season this year, are also looking to add depth at the position.

Gerald Davis also got the call from the NFL, but Davis went down to the New Orleans Saints. Davis started in 36 of his 46 games as a Blazer, including all 14 of the 2007 season.

The Saints’ camp, which starts Friday, will feature their six draft picks, 16 rookie free agent signees and 36 other rookies invited to the camp.

Davis, along with Leggett, played in both of Valdosta State’s national championships.