IOWA CITY, Iowa - Jerry Kill never has been a member of the Iowa football team's coaching staff, but he knows enough about the culture under Kirk Ferentz to admire the program.
That's why Kill, the former head coach at Minnesota, was instrumental in helping Kelton Copeland land the Iowa receivers job. Kill encouraged Copeland to pursue the job once it became available.
Copeland played quarterback for Kill at Emporia State in Kansas and they have stayed close ever since, with Kill serving as a mentor.
"First, he told me that Coach Ferentz is a heck of a guy, and if I get the opportunity I better take it or he's going to kick my butt," Copeland said Thursday during a press conference at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Copeland made the most of his opportunity as he stood out during the interview process, along with Tim Polasek, who also was hired this week to coach the Iowa offensive line.
Copeland comes to Iowa after coaching the previous four seasons for Northern Illinois. He coached receivers last season after coaching running backs in his first three seasons at Northern Illinois.
Polasek spent the previous three seasons as the offensive coordinator for FCS power North Dakota State, which upset Iowa 23-21 this past season at Kinnick Stadium. The former college quarterback has coached every position on offense except for the offensive line.
"It's interesting, both guys were quarterbacks as players in college," Ferentz said of his two new assistants. "And from my vantage point, they both have earned their way every step along their careers. Their resumes, to me, were very, very impressive. And they've both coached multiple positions, and that would include special teams as well.''
"So they've got real varied backgrounds coaching wise. And then on top that, they both come from highly successful programs, quality proigrams that we have a lot of respect for, programs that we've competed against."
Ferentz said Thursday that six candidates were interviewed for three positions. He called all six candidates stellar, but said Copeland and Polasek both stood out for lots of reasons.
"The other thing that stood out to me as we started doing a little bit of research and started doing the interviewing process, both Kelton and Tim surfaced really quickly in our minds," Ferentz said. "So I'm just excited about that."
Copeland takes over a receiver position that has been much maligned under Ferentz. Iowa's receivers only combined for one catch during the 30-3 loss to Florida in the 2017 Outback Bowl.
Greg Davis retired as the Iowa offensive coordinator shortly after the Outback Bowl, while Bobby Kennedy was relieved of his duties as receivers coach in January.
"Anytime you walk into a room, it's always a challenge for the first time," Copeland said. "These guys are looking at you, and you're looking at them and they're wondering and you're wondering. The whole deal to me is everybody gets a clean slate. It doesn't matter what you've done good or bad, what I've done good or bad, this is the first time we're meeting, right? So the first impression is always the biggest impression, the most important impression."
Copeland referred to Kill several times during his question-and-answer session with reporters. Kill resigned as the Minnesota head coach during the 2015 season for health reasons, but has since been hired as the new offensive coordinator at Rutgers.
"Coach Kill and Coach Ferentz, they have a relationship, and Coach Gary Kill is one of my mentors that I have a lot of respect for, and he reached out," said Copeland, who grew up in Miami, Fla. "Then I reached out to him expressing my interest and asked if he would help me throughout this process."
Copeland will not have the opportunity to be Ryan Boyle's position coach as Ferentz said Thursday that Boyle has switched back to quarterback after playing receiver last season as a redshirt freshman.
Here are multiple video interviews of Copeland from Thursday's press conference: