To be truthful, it was really the start of the pandemic that we first saw Jake Pope’s name pop up into the recruiting world on a consistent basis. He was a big-time player for Buford his sophomore year back in 2019, and he did have some very good offers leading up to April, but his recruitment really took a turn in the spring where he cemented himself as a national recruit.
Roll back his sophomore film and you’ll quickly see why. Whether he is making a devastating hit over the middle of the field at safety or a highlight catch like he did the other night against North Cobb – Pope pops on film.
He is definitely a highlight waiting to happen, but as mentioned above, Pope made a catch that needs to be re-hashed. Junior QB Ashton Daniels dropped back from around the 40 yard line and heaved a pass deep to Jake Pope, who wasn’t exactly wide open, but was at least in the endzone, plus the junior QB knows that his teammate can make a play on almost any football. Well Pope did just that, and leaped up while being completely face-guarded by the defender. He caught the pass around the defensive back, and then was tackled mid-flight, but still held onto the football as he fell into the endzone for a score. The concentration was off the charts, and showed the elite ball skills of the 2022 recruit.
It was an amazing play for sure, and rightfully won the top play in the state of Georgia with about 2k votes. For Pope, making plays like the other night has been a process in the making, and before the season started, it was all a test leading up to that play.
“The offseason was very odd; with all the different groups and we had to be in protocols that we had to follow, but we all still worked through it as a team,” Pope said.
Pope is definitely one of the more exciting two-way players in this recruiting class, and his offers certainly reflect that with schools like Notre Dame, Michigan State, Iowa, Nebraska and South Carolina all offering and showing the most interest at the moment. The junior student-athlete who sports a 3.9 GPA talked about what makes him a unique football player.
“I think me being a great two-way player opens up so many opportunities for me. Not many can hit hard, have good ball skills, and fly around on defense then go on offense and run crisp routes and catch touchdowns. I think I work very hard at my craft and that’s what sets me apart.”
Appropriately, Pope models his game after athletes like Julian Edelman and Ed Reed, which is definitely not a combo that I have heard from any other recruit, but does reflect Pope’s unique skill set. His explosiveness on the field, in our opinion, is better suited at the free safety position. He is a bone-crushing tackler, plus his ability to make a play on the football is outstanding, but also those ball skills can easily be taken advantage of on the offensive side of the football too.
With much of the season still to be told, we asked Pope what his goals are for the remainder of the year.
“My goal for the remainder of the season is to help the team in anyway to keep winning the next ball game, and also improve on my mechanics day in and day out.”
Buford won the Class 5-A state title in 2019, but has moved up to 6-A this fall where they are still considered to be a favorite in the classification. They have never shied away from opponents, scheduling high classification opponents each year, but still, there will definitely be an order of magnitude in difficulty when moving up a classification, and players like Pope will have to bring their A game week in and week out.
Back to recruiting, where Pope is certainly one to watch over the next year here. We wouldn’t be surprised that by decision time that Pope will have over 40 offers to his name, and whoever lands the 2022 recruit will have a difficult decision of where to play him. For now, the focus is on his junior season, so be sure to follow @RecruitGeorgia on Twitter to see how Pope and the rest of the Buford squad does during the 2020 season.