Kelton Copeland, a Miami, Fla. native whose football playing and coaching career has led him to Michigan, Kansas, South Dakota and now Illinois, has joined the Northern Illinois coaching staff as running backs coach, NIU head coach Rod Carey announced today.
Copeland, a three-year starter at quarterback at Emporia State (Kan.) University who left the school ranked third all-time in total offense and fourth in passing yards, comes to NIU after two seasons at the University of South Dakota, where he tutored the Coyotes’ wide receivers in 2011 and 2012.
Prior to South Dakota, Copeland spent five seasons on the coaching staff at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas, where he began as the secondary coach before moving to wide receivers for three seasons. He was named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Coffeyville in spring 2011 before taking the South Dakota in July.
Coffeyville advanced to the Region IV Playoffs three times (2007, 2009, 2010) during Copeland’s time at the school and boasted one of the top offenses in the Jayhawk Conference in his final year there.
He spent the 2006 season at Northwood University in Michigan where he coached safeties and nickel backs. The Timberwolves advanced to the NCAA Division II Playoffs that season.
Copeland started his coaching career at his alma mater, Emporia State, in 2003 as a graduate assistant working with the linebackers. He moved to the offensive side of the ball the next spring and moved into a full-time role as wide receivers coach in 2004 and 2005. While at Emporia State, he also fulfilled duties as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.
Copeland said he is grateful for the opportunity to join the Northern Illinois program.
“Words cannot express how excited my family and I are to join the Huskie family,” he said. “Coach Carey and the football staff have welcomed us with open arms. The standards have been set very high here at Northern Illinois, and I look forward to raising the standards even higher in the future.”
Carey said Copeland has made his transition to the NIU staff seamless.
“We are really excited to have Kelton and his family on board,” Carey said. “He is a great teacher of the game and a tireless worker in recruiting. He’s a great fit for our staff and our NIU community.”
As a player at Emporia State from 1999-2002, Copeland served as team captain for three seasons. As a senior in 2002, he set the school records for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a career and in a season. He led the Hornets in total offense in 2000 and 2001.
A product of Miami Southridge High School, Copeland earned his bachelor’s degree from Emporia State in 2003. He is married to the former Bridgette Eldridge; the couple has two daughters, Marlea (2) and Devyn (1).
NIU opens 2013 spring practices March 20 with the spring game (free admission) slated for 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at Huskie Stadium.