SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — Austin Pope’s journey to becoming a Tennessee football signee has been a long one, but it has only served to make the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder out of Knoxville’s CAK High school that much more determined for success.
Pope was a late bloomer in the recruiting process, not receiving a level of interest befitting his talents until a football camp tour last summer that included stops at Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Missouri and Arkansas.
Everyone who saw Pope in person deemed him worthy of a scholarship, whether that be as a tight end, slot receiver or linebacker.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones already had Pope on the radar and was primed to pull the trigger on a scholarship offer, certainly mindful of the importance of locking down talent in the Volunteer State.
Pope proceeded with a visit to Nebraska. Offensive guru and one-time Paul “Bear” Bryant protege Mike Riley had taken note of the East Tennessee product’s rare blend of size, speed and coordination, and he had been among the first to offer.
Pope made the visit out of respect to Riley and the Cornhuskers’ great tradition, but he knew where his heart was set all along.
Just like most any other Tennessee kid, Pope’s dream has always been to help lead the Vols to football championships. In the video above, his enthusiasm and confidence is evident.