Kelton Copeland
Kelton  Copeland

Assistant Coach/Running Backs

Alma Mater, Year:
Emporia State, 2003


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Kelton Copeland, a Miami, Fla. native whose football playing and coaching career has led him to the states of Michigan, Kansas, South Dakota and now Illinois, enters his third season as running backs coach for Northern Illinois University.

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, came to NIU after two seasons at the University of South Dakota, where he tutored the Coyotes’ wide receivers in 2011 and 2012.

The 2014 campaign saw several NIU rushers thrive under Copeland’s tutelage. Led by senior Cameron Stingily, who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers following the season, the Huskies’ rushing attack tallied 3,488 yards and 36 touchdowns. Stingily (971 yards), Joel Bouagnon (655) and Akeem Daniels (390) each averaged more than 5.0 yards per carry.

In his first season with the Huskies, Copeland helped transform former linebacker Stingily into one of the best running backs in the MAC. Stingily, who teamed with quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch to become the first Huskie duo to each gain more than 1,000 rushing yards in a season, gained a career-high 1,119 yards on 203 carries while becoming a force in the NIU offense.

Prior to his time at South Dakota, Copeland spent four 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 job 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.

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 and the couple has three daughters, Marlea, Devyn and Kabryn.


2013- NIU (Running Backs)
2011-12 South Dakota (Wide Receivers)
2007-10 Coffeyville C.C.
Wide Receivers (2008-10)
Secondary (2007)
2006 Northwood (Safeties)
2003-05 Emporia State (Graduate Assistant)


2014 Boca Raton Bowl Bowl (NIU)
2013 Poinsettia Bowl (NIU)
2010 Region IV Playoffs (Coffeyville C.C.)
2009 Region IV Playoffs (Coffeyville C.C.)
2007 Region IV Playoffs (Coffeyville C.C.)
2006 Division II Playoffs (Northwood)


1999-2002 Emporia State (Quarterback)


College B.S., Emporia State, 2003
High School Miami Southridge, 1998


Birthdate June 9, 1980
Birthplace Miami, Fla.
Hometown Miami, Fla.
Family Wife, Bridgette, daughters Marlea (5), Devyn (4) and Kabryn (1)
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