Coples: Chaotic environment at UNC contributed to 2011 woes

  • By David Ely NFL.com
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Quinton Coples knows the reputation he's earned. He's heard the "questionable motor" label attached to nearly every scouting report, how he took plays off during his less-than-stellar senior season at the University of North Carolina.

And when teams ask him to explain the dip in production during his final collegiate season, Coples doesn't hide from the unflattering numbers, a product of a turbulent year in Chapel Hill, N.C., he says.

"I just tell them that there was a lot going on at the University of North Carolina," Coples said Friday during an interview with NFL.com. "We had a lot of different changes. I was asked to do another position. ... I think it got to me a little bit; just got away from me and I could recover."

Coples, of course, is talking about the impermissible benefit scandal that rocked the program, costing North Carolina head coach Butch Davis his job and prompting the early retirement of the school's athletic director. All the turmoil had an effect, said Coples, widely considered a top-10 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, and he finished the year with just 7.5 sacks down from 10 in 2010.

"It took a toll because Coach Davis was definitely a lovable guy," Coples said. "He was a great coach. He helped us in all aspects. ... To see him leave and to see the coaching staff start to deteriorate, and have other coaches come in for interviews ... it took a toll on the team. The team didn't really know what direction that we were going."

After a dominant Senior Bowl performance, however, Coples doesn't seems to be at ease with himself the draft just over a month away.

"Definitely went (into the Senior Bowl) with a chip on my shoulder, definitely took it personally," Coples said. "At the Senior Bowl, it's the best of the best. So I played against the best, and I made plays against the best. So that question mark would be erased out of their mind."

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He said he doesn't concern himself with mock drafts, though he admitted he's heard he's projected anywhere from No. 5-10. Nor does he waste his time wondering which team's hat he'll don come April 26, even if one of those teams in question is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, holders of the fifth-overall pick who just happened to have hired Coples' old coach to be a part of Greg Schiano's staff.

"It would definitely be a great opportunity," Coples said of reuniting with Davis, adding that he's been in contact with his ex-coach throughout the draft process.

"Any advice that he could give me," Coples said. "Move forward in my life, understanding the business aspect of this transition that I'm going to. Just seeing what he can do for me. What he knows. What are my weaknesses, what are my strengths. What are people saying about me that can help me."

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