COLUMBIA — Max Copeland looks different.
In the past two months, he’s lost approximately 50 pounds. His hair is shorter, too.
“(Teammate) Andrew Wilson cut it off with a hunting knife,” Copeland said Thursday at Missouri's Pro Day at Devine Practice Facility. “I just pulled it up like a samurai, and he grabbed his hunting knife and just sliced it. It was like a ceremony — an offering to the thunder gods.”
The physical changes are surprising, but not nearly as much as Copeland’s revelation that he is officially changing positions.
Copeland started at guard on the offensive line last season and was expected to enter the NFL draft as a lineman. But one day in late January, he had a dream in which he played fullback. He enjoyed it so much that he decided he would attempt a pro career in the offensive backfield.
“I woke up one day and thought it would be cool,” Copeland said. “I just kind of thought it was time to start a new journey. I feel like there are more worlds to conquer.”
He didn’t tell anyone about his decision for several days, at which point he approached three graduate assistants to help him with a new diet and workout plan. Copeland has avoided carbohydrates since then and devoted himself to strictly mowing down chicken breasts and the occasional fish.
On Thursday afternoon, he went through testing as a 265-pound fullback. His unofficial 40-yard dash time (5.26 seconds) is still slow for the position, and he dropped a couple passes while warming up, but he caught every ball quarterback James Franklin threw his way in the offensive team portion.
“He actually surprised me,” Franklin said. “He’s got really good hands.”
The Pro Day attendees included Copeland, Wilson, Franklin, defensive end Michael Sam, running back Henry Josey, linebacker Donovan Bonner, offensive lineman Justin Britt, wide receiver Jaleel Clark, defensive lineman Kony Ealy, cornerback E.J. Gaines, wide receiver Marcus Lucas, wide receiver L’Damian Washington, tight end Eric Waters and safety Matt White.
The NFL draft will take place from May 8-10. Several Missouri players are expected to be drafted, and those who remain undrafted could potentially be signed as free agents immediately following the draft.
Thursday’s events were the last public impression most of them will make on the field until this summer, and players such as Copeland hope they made the most of their opportunity.
“I wasn’t perfect, by any means,” Copeland said. “But I was happy. I’ve come along way in a short amount of time.”
Franklin continues work on throwing mechanics
Franklin had a big day as well. With numerous scouts watching, he completed 48-of-52 passes to his teammates in the team portion of the Pro Day. All four of his incompletions came 30-plus yards downfield (8-for-12), and he was 3-for-3 when rolling out of the pocket.
“I think I did pretty good today,” Franklin said. “I obviously could’ve done better without having any incompletions. I think everything else went pretty well.”
The three-year starter is not a highly-touted draft prospect (he’s currently the 29th-ranked quarterback by CBS), but he’s been working on his mechanics to create a quicker release and more velocity.
Access denied for Shane Ray
Senior defensive end Shane Ray was in attendance along with several of his current Missouri teammates. When he tried to gain entrance to the weight room to watch the lifting portion, however, the security attendant informed him that he had the wrong shirt on (each player was given a gold #MizzouMade shirt as a credential for the event).
Ray was disappointed, to say the least.
“I win games,” he said, before walking back to the locker room. He eventually found his way into the festivities.
Henry Josey opts out of 40-yard dash at Pro Day
Running back Henry Josey was lightning-quick at the NFL scouting combine in February. He ran a 4.40-second 40-yard dash in Indianapolis and opted not to run again in Columbia on Thursday afternoon.
“I’ve ran fast already,” Josey said. “What do you want me to do? Get a rocket ship?”
Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.